We measured the daily energy expenditure of free-living Common Loon (Gavia immer) chicks using doubly labeled water (DLW). Average body mass of chicks during the DLW measures were 425, 1,052, and 1,963 g for 10 day-old (n = 5), 21 day-old (n = 6), and 35 day-old (n = 6) chicks, respectively, and their mean daily energy expenditures (DEE) were 686 kJ day-1, 768 kJ day-1, and 1,935 kJ day-1, respectively. Variation in DEE was not due solely to variation in body mass, but age was also a significant factor independent of body mass. Energy deposited in new tissue was calculated from age-dependent tissue energy contents and measured gains in body mass, which were 51, 54, and 33 g day-1 from the youngest to oldest chicks. Metabolizable energy (the sum of DEE and tissue energy) was used to estimate feeding rates of loon chicks and their exposure to mercury in the fish they consume. We calculated that loon chicks in Wisconsin consumed between 162 and 383 g wet mass of fish per day (depending on age), corresponding to intakes of mercury of 16-192 ??g day-1.
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Daily energy expenditures of free-ranging Common Loon (Gavia immer) chicks