The Raptor
Resource Project

P.O. Box 16
Decorah, IA 52101

Bob Anderson
Director

Amy Ries
Webmaster
ries93@gmail.com

 

 

 
Home >> What's New
 

11/30/11

Where is Mom and Dad? I have received several emails wondering where the adults are. This is the time of the year where the adult eagles spend the least amount of time visiting the nest. We should begin seeing them more once the days lengthen after solstice. Bob is going to visit the shop and see if he can get photos of them for everyone.

We have contacted Xcel about the cams and hope to have the owlcam back up soon.


8/18/2011

It has been nearly two very busy months since I posted an update. As everyone knows, we captured an eaglet and placed a transmitter on her. She left the Decorah area on 8/14 and is currently in the valley of the Chippewa river, a little north and east of where it joins the Mississippi. We believe that all of the young have dispersed at this point. When we observed the adults eagles catching trout on Tuesday morning, they were not joined by any hungry babies begging for food. To observe the travels of D1, click here.

We are currently working on our annual report, setting up a new redtail hawk cam at Eaglecrest in California, planning upgrades to the bald eagle cams in Decorah, building new and replacement nest boxes for peregrines and other birds, and much more. We have entered all of the peregrine data into the Midwest DB and I hope to have the annual report done soon.

Many people have been posting pics and art of the eagles in our forum. Here is a particularly nice set: Iceline's Decorah Pics


6/20/2011

Decorah Bald Eagles - Houston, We Have Lift Off!

Greetings to Decorah Bald Eagle enthusiasts all over the world. On 6/16/11, four of us were traveling to Trempealeau, WI, to band young falcons when we received word that two of the Decorah eaglets had left the nest and flown to the upper branches of the nest tree. We had been expecting fledging to take place between June 11 and June 25, and were delighted with the news. However, we decided to continue with the day's planned banding before going back to Decorah - I had been surveying the Trempealeau cliff, a large wall overlooking the Mississippi river, for over twenty years and was looking forward to banding falcons there. It was most rewarding to don rappelling gear, go over the wall, and find two healthy babies. We quickly banded them and hurried back to Decorah.

David Hecht rushed over to the shop while I unpacked our climbing equipment. I stepped into my office just in time to see him pan the camera and show the two “newly branched” eaglets out on a nearby limb. It was only a short while later that the third eaglet jumped from the nest to the branch to join the rest of the eagle family. I was convinced that the eaglets would return to the nest by evening and joined David to take my turn at the controls of the PTZ camera until well past dark. However, all three eaglets were still out on the limbs of the nest tree at dawn on the morning of 6/17/2011. They remained there all day, returning to the nest whenever one of the adult eagles brought food and flying back to perch on the tree limbs after feeding.

On the morning of 6/18/11, I could see only two eaglets in the camera view. I drove over to the nest site and searched the nest tree, ground, and banks of the nearby trout stream. Nothing. I was perplexed. Later in the morning, as I was speaking to Brian Malaise at the nearby trout hatchery, I noticed one young eaglet flying back to the nest tree as if it had been on the wing for weeks. I raced back to the nest area and took a head count from directly under the nest tree, where I was pleased to find three young eaglets and the adult female.

We will see the Decorah fledglings less and less as they take to the sky. We will soon be shutting down the cameras, closing chat, and suspending most Facebook wall posting, although we will continue to provide updates as they become available. Our 2012 plans include improved cameras mounted out of projectile poop range at the Decorah nest, and live video and audio from a Red-tail hawk nest (and very probably a Peregrine falcon nest). This will be an exciting complement to the now-famous Decorah Bald Eagle Cam.

I would like each and every person to consider this: The 2011 Decorah Eagle Cam turned out to be a truly extraordinary wildlife learning experience for millions of people across the world. A great many thanks to all of the moderators for spending countless hours educating so many people about the natural world and life history of the Bald Eagle. The 2011 Decorah Eagle Cam was most likely the largest wildlife education program ever.

There are many people who have donated their time as volunteers for RRP to make the 2011 Decorah Eagle Cam the wonderful, enjoyable, and educational experience that it was.

The following is a list of those individuals who contributed their time to make the Decorah Eagle cam the huge success it evolved into. My apologies if I have overlooked anyone. Amy Ries, David Kester, Neil Rettig, Kenny Phillips, Shanna Riha, Elfruler, Char, Kathy, Ruby Tugade, Neil Flood, Jim Womeldorf, David Hecht, Karen Lee, Willard and Mary Ellen Holthaus, Jacob and Holly Mengelson, Lavonne Bjergum, the great support team at Ustream, and chat mods bellenurse1, birdsohio, bremerbirdfan, FinnBMD, gandpengelking, GoldenEagle4444, hummingbird2011, ILbirder, jollygiantredwood, lgb1126, luvsbirds, nature27, nwsonshine, ocalagaltomsriver, Pagent, Peg22, RaptorGal, RedBird51, spice1217, tekonshamichigan, ThinkingWoman, ToolesboroTom, and Totenzwerg.

Thank you so much for following us. We hope you'll be watching next year.


6/1/2011

Falcon banding season has started! Some news from the field...

  • Lolo has been replaced at Horizon Milling. Her replacement is *Y/*P (Charlette), a 2008 Wells Fargo Hatch. Charlette is not as aggressive as Lolo - I think the male is actually more aggressive here. He didn't strike us, but he came closer than the female.
  • Julie O'Conner from Hawk Ridge posted that Amy has been replaced by *B/8, from Mount McRae, ON. For Duluth news, check out the very nice peregrine watch facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pwduluth
  • We have banded 17 babies so far - 2 females and a male at Genoa (parents are Jezebel and Mark), 2 females and a male at Cassville (parents unknown), 4 females at Great Spirit Bluff (parents unknown), 3 males at 3M (parents are Charlie 64/P and an unbanded female), and 3 females and a male at Horizon. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a fun article about the 3M banding: click here to read it.
  • We have new nests at Trempeleau and Diamond Bluff (where the falcons are nesting in a very old nestbox). Doug Wood has confirmed that the West Bluff falcons are nesting in their original, more-accessible to us eyerie (yayyhhh!), and Castle Rock looks good. However, we are still not sure about Maiden Rock. There were falcons at the Wyalusing Quarry, but they did not lay eggs this year. The female is immature, so this site might be successful next year.

5/23/2011

I have some bad news. Rob MacIntyre has passed away. Rob was the President of the Raptor Resource Project (Bob is the director). He was very involved in our work, rappelled with us, and established a new falcon nest last year at Riverview Towers. Rob gave me (Amy) rappel lessons at his home in North Minneapolis, using a large tree in his yard. He was a great guy, always very enthusiastic and encouraging, and he sure loved to rappel. He caught Amy when we were banding at Greysolon in 2006 and named her "Amy" (she was an unbanded adult falcon). We have many great memories of Rob and are shocked and saddened by his passing.


Bob and Rob banding at Great Spirit Bluff


Bob, Rob, and Doug Wood at Maiden Rock


Dan Berger, Dave Kester, and Rob catching Husker at Red Wing


Rob in Duluth, helping install the new Greysolon nestbox


Rob and Dave at Castle Rock


5/13/2011

Sherco started hatch yesterday, although Mom is sticking so tight to baby that I don't have good pics yet. The next site should be blackdog. I checked in the kestrels this morning and verified that they have five eggs. The poem The Windhover refers to the kestrel...

"I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding"

Maybe some of you remember it from high school?

There were also a lot of comments on our facebook page about ants in the eagles nest, which is a wonderful source of food for more than the eagles. The ants don't hurt the eagles or the eaglets, but they also don't have a relationship with them (although I suppose they could help clean up the nest). However, some birds, including red-eyed vireos, oropendolas, and caciques, do have a relationship of sorts with hornets, wasps. and bees.

  • Red-eyed vireos cover the outside of their nests with hornet/wasp paper. Although we aren't sure, it seems probable that the paper covered nests look like wasp or hornet nests to potential predators, making them much less likely to rob the nest of eggs or young birds.
  • Oropendolas and Caciques are southern birds that often build nests near wasps and bees. According to Colin Tudge's book The Bird, the birds seek out wasp and bee nest and will delay their reproduction until the insects become active. The wasps and bees protect young birds from the larva of the botfly, which can kill them - according to Tudge, a young bird with ten or more larvae is generally considered doomed. Here is a link to a paper about this for anyone who feels like some academic reading.

5/12/2011

Dot, the new female at GRE, laid her first egg yesterday. Although we normally don't predict until 3 eggs (33 days after 3rd egg is the estimated hatch date), this means a mid-June hatch. These babies will be hatching as the GRE babies are fledging. FtstVrain and Mick both have video of the event: here is Mick's.


5/10/2011

Genoa started hatch a few days earlier than I predicted. John Thiel and our sharp-eyed forum members clued me in. You can see the baby below. We had one Saturday and possibly another on Monday.

Genoa Peregrines

I also found out that Frightful, the daughter of King plant falcon Belinda, is nesting at Madison Gas and Electric in Madison WI, and hatched 4 young. Here is the link. A second-grade class from Anderson Elementary named Frightful after "Frightful" from My Side of the Mountain.

The next hatch dates - and keep in mind that these are estimates - are:

  • Sherco: 5/11
  • Blackdog: 5/16
  • Cohasset: 5/17
  • King: 5/19
  • Hibbard: 5/25

It is not uncommon for eggshell to be the first clue, since Mom often sticks tight to the young.


5/7/2011

We received this message today.

Michael Harris
My son, Stephen, 41, died Monday. In lieu of flowers, I have requested donations from his friends be made to Raptor Resource Project. Stephen enjoyed watching these beautiful eagles as much as I have, and he was eagerly waiting to see them grow and fledge. I'm unbelievably sorry that cannot happen. God watch over all of them.

I am so sorry for Stephen's passing. Here is a poem in his memory:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=201260946577199&id=103786266324668&notif_t=feed_comment

We don't name the eaglets because we don't band him, but we will name a peregrine in his honor.


5/6/2011

Xcel Energy is pulling out of the Merricourt Wind Project in North Dakota over concerns the project could adversely impact endangered and threatened species. Xcel Energy has always been a good friend to our birds. When Bob called them in the late 1980s to ask if one of their smokestacks could become a home to one of the world's most highly endangered birds, they said 'Yes' immediately, thereby launching the utility-peregrine program. When a dead peregrine was found in the Blackdog natural gas stack, they spent an enormous amount of money to cover the top of the stack with a mesh grate to prevent birds from flying into it. When there were concerns that peregrines could be affected by nesting at power plant stacks, they helped fund a blood metals study to determine whether contaminants were an issue (they were not, but now we know that instead of inferring it).

We would like to thank Xcel Energy for being a good friend to birds.


5/5/2011

As regular forum watchers already know, the female falcon at Great River Energy disappeared. Brenda, who is very dedicated to the falcons, spent three days trying to find her, to no avail. A new female has now shown up in the nestbox. Although she didn't appear immediately after the old female vanished, there is some speculation that there could have been a territorial fight. The new female is Dot (M/56, B/G), named after Dot K from the forum. Dot is a 2007 hatch from Blackdog, and a daughter of Nora, which means she could be a real handful. The male and female are courting, so I assume that eggs are still a possibility.

Falcon egg-laying is occurring just a shade later this year, so hatch will as well. Here are the current estimates:

  • Genoa: 5/10
  • Sherco: 5/11
  • Blackdog: 5/16
  • Cohasset: 5/17
  • King: 5/19
  • Hibbard: 5/25

The eggs also seem to be spread out a little more, which is why some of the 1st egg versus hatch dates seem so far apart: we actually go by the 33 days past the 3rd egg. These are estimates, so they could go sooner or later.

Meanwhile, the eaglets have started some serious flapping practice:

 


4/29/2011

As forum members already know, the female disappeared from GRE. GRE had employee volunteers out looking to see if they could find her, but they were not able to. The male incubated for a few days before abandoning the nest. I am very sorry to report this outcome - GRE was putting food out for the male, but although that has worked at places in the past, it didn't work here. If I hear anything new, I will post it.

It looks like we might have a busy year over in Wisconsin. Here's the latest cliff survey from Bob:

  • Diamond Bluff cliff. Two adults for the first time at a nest box we mounted to the cliff face twenty years ago.
  • West Bluff apr. 1.5 miles upstream of the big Maiden Rock cliff. Two falcons on territory. (Amy - this site requires rope protectors. I hope they picked some place a little more accessible!).
  • Maiden Rock. Two adult falcons on eggs.
  • Twin Bluff Nelson, WI: One falcon seen at the cliff mounted nest box with some regularity. Two have not been confirmed.
  • 12 Mile Bluff. The falcons are once again nesting on the cliff instead of the nearby nest on the DPC stack. (Amy - I wonder if this is because the cliff faces the river?)
  • Fountain City cliff. A single falcon was confirmed for the first time on 4/17/11. Doug Wood has now reported two falcons on territory.
  • Castle Rock cliff. It is so good to have two falcons back at this lovely cliff. There are no falcons nesting at the nearby Bay State Milling box. I think the falcons have moved from the stack nest box back to the cliff. (Amy - Dave K says this one has a "high pucker factor". Dave is right.)
  • Trempealeau cliff. Two falcons on this cliff. I have been watching for falcons on this cliff face for decades. I've spoken with the owner who is keen to protect this site for the falcons. There have been trespassers wandering off Perot State Park property on to this private property. This last week end some kids were tossing rock and sticks off to top of the cliff face. Signs will be posted and the site closely monitored.
  • Lynxville, WI Two falcons were observed on earlier surveys using the upstream cliff. The eyrie on this cliff is very low on the cliff wall. Need to confirm. (Amy - it is really low - almost below the treeline).
  • Wyalusing quarry. An immature falcon and an adult tiercel are nesting on this quarry wall. Brett Mandernack was able to read the band number on the female. She is 03/S from the Colonade Building in Minneapolis. Rob MacIntyre and I installed the original nest box on this building many years ago. It's going to be interesting to see if the adult male is a cliff produced falcon. We will get his ID if we can get a few days of sun.

No falcons are nesting this year at the huge Maassen's Bluff that towers over the river. This is odd as it has had territorial falcons for many years. No falcons at the Alma Marina cliff and no falcons at Lock & Dam #9 cliff. Falcons are on eggs at the US Bank in La Crosse, DPC Genoa power plant, and Alliant Energy Cassville power plant. I'll post a schedule when we have it.

While the forum was down, Dot and several other people sent me some owl pics, which I really appreciated. Here are two of my favorites. It is amazing how quickly this little family grows up!


4/06/2011

What an incredible week! Thanks so much to our supporters: mods, forum members, people who have made donations, and all of the enthusiastic watchers. I would never have dreamed the eagle cam would be so popular.

We finally had the third Decorah hatch today. Here is a great video from ElfRuler:

Of course, peregrine season is also on its way. We finally had the third egg at Genoa! Jezebel already seemed to be in full incubation when this arrived, so I don't know if the 33-day rule will apply or not. Nonetheless, I am estimating April 10. A few pictures from today:

Egg #1 at Blackdog
(thanks, Nora!)
Mother is MandyRose
Egg #3 at Genoa
(thanks, John!)
Mother is Jezebel
Egg #2 at Great River Energy
(thanks, Peggy!)

The female Osprey has shown up at our Osprey cam at the Alan S. King plant in Oak Park Heights, MN:

I really appreciate the postings in the forum - especially everyone who is observing the falcons. This is very, very helpful in helping me keep up the calendar. Thank you!!!

I also wanted to share this blogpost that someone posted on our facebook page. I really think it is wonderful:
http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/2011/04/live-streaming-by-ustream.htm (Animals rock my world)


4/01/2011

The Decorah eaglets started hatch! Here is a link to a blog on eagles, incubation, and eaglets: http://raptorresource.blogspot.com/2011/04/eagles-incubate-for-roughly-34-37-days.html

Here is a pip video:

 


3/30/2011

The first peregrine egg of the season was laid at the Dairyland power plant in Genoa, WI on Tuesday, March 29. Thanks, John!

I am not going to do an estimated hatch date until egg #3, but we had the first egg at Genoa on the 30th last year, and hatch started there on May 8th.

Here is a nice Decorah video from razzle:

 


3/29/2011

Nesting season has started off with a bang! As of right now, we have two owlets at Valmont and an eaglet at the Fort St. Vrain nest. Here is a video of the newly hatched eaglet at Fort St. Vrain. The Decorah eagles nest should begin hatching nest, and peregrines will start egg laying soon.

I got the Decorah Dailies started again this morning, so they will be filling in with photos throughout the day.

Great news on the peregrine front - we have peregrines at Diamond Head bluff in Wisconsin! Bob put the nestbox up over 20 years ago, and it has sat empty ever since. No more - two peregrines appear to have claimed it. We will be keeping a close eye on it. He also found two peregrines at Maiden Rock, two at 12-Mile Bluff behind the Dairyland Alma plant, and one at Castle Rock. We are still waiting at Fountain City, Maassen's Bluff, Twin Bluff in Nelson, and West Bluff.


3/26/2011

The first owl egg hatched today at Valmont. The owlet is next to the egg. Like eagles, owlets are atricial birds that require parental care. According to Stanford University: "(Altricial Birds): Hatched with eyes closed, with little or no down, incapable of departing from the nest, and fed by the parents."

The young babies also can't thermoregulate (control their body temperature), which is why the parents spend so much time sitting on them. Note the dark blotch next to the edge of the nestbox - that is prey. Birds have among the fastest growth rates in the animal kingdom. This tiny, helpless little baby will be bouncing all around the nestbox in just a couple of weeks. When my kids were little, they loved the book "Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell. This is a fun book, not an educational book, but the way the three baby owls bounced around their nest was very realistic.

The Fort St. Vrain nest is estimated to hatch tomorrow, and the Decorah nest on April 1st. In falcon related news, I spotted a female falcon at Maiden Rock bluff on Thursday, and what I think was the male (although I am not positive) in a tree above 12-mile Bluff, behind the Dairyland Alma plant. We can expect egg-laying to begin in a few weeks.

If you live down in the area between Nelson, WI, and Fountain City, WI, we are looking for falcons at Maasen's Bluff (which Gary Grunewald watches), the Fountain City nest box (Doug Wood), Indianhead/Hole in the Wall (just south of Fountain City), Castle Rock bluff (just north of the Winona bridge on the WI side), and Homer bluff (in Homer, MN, south of Winona. It is the bluff with the radio tower on top). If you see falcons at any of these locations, please let us know. I've got nestmaps here, if you'd like to get more exact locations.


3/16/2011

The eagles and owls will hatch eggs soon, but the season is just beginning for the falcons. Bob did a cliff survey over the weekend. I've got the full version published on our blog, which you can read by following the link. In brief, Bob saw two falcons at:

  • The Bunge Grain Elevator in MacGregor, IA
  • Leo's Bluff near Waukon Junction, IA
  • The northern Lynxville Bluff in WI
  • Queen's Bluff in MN
  • 12-Mile Bluff in Alma, WI

He saw one falcon at:

  • The Lansing Power Plant Bluff in Lansing, IA. Will be called Atchafalaya bluff from here on out.
  • Great Spirit Bluff in Dresbach, MN
  • Bay State Milling in Winona, MN

He saw no falcons at:

  • Lock and Dam Bluff #9 in Wisconsin
  • Guider's Bluff, Lansing, IA
  • Princess Point, MN (near Reno, MN)
  • Brownsville Bluff, MN
  • Shellhorn Bluff, MN
  • Trempealeau Bluff, Trempealeau WI
  • Homer, MN Bluff
  • Castle Rock Bluff, WI
  • Indian Head Bluff, Fountain City, WI
  • Fountain City Bluff, Fountain City, WI
  • 12-Mile Bluff, Alma WI
  • Maasens Bluff, WI
  • Maiden Rock, Maiden Rock, WI
  • West Bluff, Maiden Rock, WI

I've got a list of falcon maps on our site: follow this link to view them. We have a very dedicated observer at Maasen's Bluff, but could use observers elsewhere. Let us know if you spot any falcons at these locations.


3/10/2010

A nice video from 989 razzle. At 1.45, you can see the female ball her foot as she settles down on the eggs. This helps prevent her from puncturing the eggs with her long, sharp talons.


3/2/2011

Thanks for all of the donations we have received for the cam and our work. I know that I will be buying some extra slings, another daisy chain, a new rope - I was thinking mine probably needed replacement - and maybe a new grigri as well. I would like to have another one in case we need to do an emergency rescue on a wall. I have an idea that I shall shortly be testing with the help of my family (on the ground, of course).

The Decorah eagles laid their third egg today. Here is some video from elfruler. I try not to be anthropomorphic, but this is clearly a lot of work - I found myself wincing in sympathy as I watched this. I am still estimating April 1st for hatch, although it could go later.

I had never seen an eagle's egg up close before until now. PeggyJean posted this in our forum:

I posted some more about eggs on our blog at http://raptorresource.blogspot.com/2011/03/decorah-eagles-laid-their-third-egg.html

We are also starting to think about peregrine season. It is almost time to head out to the Mississippi and look for peregrines along the cliffs. If you are interested, I have a map of nests and spots here. Bob finds peregrines by listening for them, checking likely perching spots (they like high snags on sheer cliff faces), watching for them, and watching other migratory birds. We also plan to install a new nestbox on the Bellevue, Iowa cliff. If you are out on the river and spot a peregrine, please drop us a line and let us know. We are especially interested in the area shown on our maps.

Finally, I am building a little video library to show the incredible videos that forum members have made. I will keep everyone posted.

Thanks again for your donations and for your help! I truly appreciate the photos and videos people make and post, the forum members who mod and welcome new members, and the mods over at UStream. Your help and participation make this more fun for everyone.


2/27/2011

Wow - welcome everyone from UStream! I am glad everyone is enjoying the cam so much. There were a number of videos of the second egg-laying that I really liked, but I am going to feature this one here:

So here are my estimated hatching dates for the three nests with eggs. These are estimates - actual hatching could happen sooner or later.

  • Valmont owls: 3/26
  • Fort St. Vrain eagles: 3/27 (3 eggs)
  • Decorah eagles: 4/1 (2 eggs so far)

We have had a number of people ask how we got the cam in the tree. Here is a link to Nora's installation photogallery. You do need permits for this (training is also a good idea, and heights shouldn't bother you).

http://tinyurl.com/6xbu7om


2/18/2011

Nora caught shots of racoons in the Decorah nest. Bob is buying mothballs and and a live trap. If the mothballs do the trick, we won't worry about live-trapping. If they don't, we'll live trap the racoons and remove them.

As everyone already knows, the Fort St. Vrain eagles laid their first egg on February 16th:
Elfenruler has some nice screen caps up on photobucket:
http://s1138.photobucket.com/home/elfenruler/index

Snowflake is back at Valmont. She has either already laid or is about to lay. She laid February 10th last year. I'm going to try to get a nest viewer going on this, although it may be sporadic.

Xcel has upgraded their birdcams and I have new links in the BirdCam viewer. Next up should be the Decorah Eagles nest.


1/23/2011

In the middle of winter, it is a good thing to remember that spring is coming. Here are some egg-laying dates from last year:

  • Valmont Owls: February 10th, 2010
  • Fort St. Vrain Eagles: 2/14/2010
  • Decorah Eagles: 2/25/2010

Looking at the calendar, peregrines that migrated started showing up in mid-February, and the first peregrine egg was laid on March 23. It won't be long before we're looking at river cliffs again. I've got a map of actual and potential sites listed on our website - follow this link.

I put some stills from the red-tailed hawk/bald eagle encounter up on facebook. Wow!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=30878&id=103786266324668


1/22/2011

Peggy Jean captured this video of the eagles defending their nest (and food) from a red tailed hawk. I've never seen them this upset.

I think the hawk must have been very hungry. Eagles have a larger body size, a greater wingspan, and bigger feet. Baldeagleinfo.com gives the following sizes for bald eagles:

  • A female bald eagle's body length varies from 35 to 37 inches; with a wingspan of 79 to 90 inches. The smaller male bald eagle has a body length of 30 to 34 inches; with a wingspan ranging from 72 to 85 inches.  

While wikipedia gives the following information for red tailed hawks:

  • A female red tailed hawk can measure 19 to 26 inches long; wingspan is about 45 to 52 in. Male Red-Tailed Hawk may measure 18 to 22 inches.

The weather has been cold enough to keep grey squirrels close to home - I don't see nearly has many at my feeder when the temperature drops. While squirrels can be easy to catch in the deep snow, away from their trees, the snow protects other prey animals like mice and voles. Changes in raptor hunting behavior have been observed following heavy snowfall - I found a few papers that discussed raptors moving from traditional hunting areas to roadways and other plowed areas where prey would be easier to catch. Was this desperation, or just another way that raptors adapt to thick snow cover and prey scarcity?

Note the eagle's foot. Journey North has a nice page about eagle feet. I hadn't given it a lot of thought, but the eagles have some special foot adaptations that help them to survive. This article outlines them very nicely.


1/20/2011

Starlings at the Decorah eagle nest, raccoons at the Fort St Vrain nest, and a red-shouldered hawk in my sister-in-law Sandy's backyard. Winter is a tough time for animals, and they take their food where they can get it. The starlings and racoons are feeding on leftovers in the nest. The red-shouldered hawk is hunting voles and eating suet from Sandy's feeder.

In watching the variety of animals that use our eagles nests for food and shelter, I have to wonder how bald eagle recovery is impacting other species. When peregrines came back to the Mississippi river, migrating birds once again had to run 'the gauntlet'. Eagles are obvious predators, but clearly even prey animals benefit from having them around.


This makes me nervous - racoons have been recorded eating eaglets.
For now, though, they are simply looking for leftovers. Eagles are
formidable opponents, and we have never had racoon problems
in this nest.


Starlings in winder plumage. The eagles will have left little
bits of protein and the stomach contents of prey such as squirrels.
The hungry starlings find this a fairly easy-to-get at food source.


Red shouldered hawk. Sandy feeds birds, and birds leave seed
behind. This attracts mice and voles, which the hawk eats. The
hawk will also take suet from her feeder.

Check our forum for video and pictures of birds (and other animals) in winter. Our wonderful forum members have collected some great material that is well worth checking out.

In other news, I know that Xcel is working on a cable problem at the Valmont nest. I'll keep everyone posted.


1/11/2011

The USFWS did a midwinter bald eagle survey on pools 12, 13, and 14. They were kind enough to send me a copy of their observations. Click here for a pdf of the report or view the map below for observations.

Bob was exploring the PTZ camera features at the Decorah Eagle nest. Its zoom feature is amazing.

You can see more of these photographs at our flikr account or on our forum. Bald eagles don't have "whiskers" or facial disks, but I can see analogues of both those things in these photographs.


 

1/5/2011

Some video of the Decorah eagles:



This video was captured by cal04fyi. The eagles appear to be fighting over some prey. There is a lot of snow on the ground - this was taken on December 22 - and it is possible that food was hard to come by.



This video was captured by Elvenruler on January 3rd. What a difference a few weeks make. The eagles are clearly at work on the nest and, whether it is because food is more available or they are moving into a more amorous phase of their relationship, seem less upset about their prey.

Of course, eagles aren't the only birds engaged in nesting activities. Alison caught this great picture of a gentoo penguin on Martin Grund's excellent penguin cam. These penguins are nesting at the Bernardo O'Higgins base in Antartica. Although penguins here don't have to worry about land-based mammalian predators like cats, racoons, or dogs, they face other dangers including arctic sheathbills and inclement weather. You can just barely see the baby penguins at the adult's feet.

The base is quite remote. I was surprised google maps could give me such a nice picture of it.


View Larger Map

In other news, we are going to be working with Xcel Energy on getting the cams and video up and operational. Bob believes he has found a really good wireless system that we plan to test at Sherco next week, so keep an eye out for that cam to come back online.


12/23/2010

When I was young, I developed the impression that almost all birds migrated south in the winter to avoid freezing. I was surprised to find out that some birds, including eagles and falcons, may or may not migrate. If I could avoid the worst of a midwest winter, I would...but the Decorah eagles have a supply of food and water, so they are staying.

We are just a day past longest-night solstice. If you are like me, you remarked on it before embarking on something more critical, like Christmas shopping. However, photoperiod is very important to birds. Although species vary in their responses to daylight length, the annual cycle of birds overall is driven by daylight length. I've got more about this on our blog.


12/16/2010

Happy holidays, everyone! What a winter! Some birds, like ruffed grouse, benefit from a lot of snow. Others don't. For more about animals and snow, take a look at this Audubon article. While the snow falls, I am getting the eagle dailies up and running again. You can preview them here. I'll probably need to do some work yet, but they are most of the way there.

PeggyJean captured this photo of a red-bellied woodpecker at the nest. I can't imagine there would be much for him to eat here, and I don't recall seeing too many dead branches on the tree.

You may have noticed the new weather sticker and map in the Decorah and Fort St Vrain eagle pages. I thought people might find this information interesting, and I hope you like it! We are looking at getting an ad-free UStream account. I will keep everyone posted.


11/31/2010

The Decorah Eagles are back! Click here to go to the nestviewer and view them. We are currently using UStream. You can close the ads by clicking the little x.

The dailies will be back shortly.


11/12/2010

The Pioneer Press picked up a story that the Cedar Rapids Gazette did about the Decorah eaglecam. It's a nice story: Popular Bald EagleCam Gets Upgrade.

This weekend's National Geographic "Great Migrations" will include footage of falcons that Neil Rettig shot at the Lansing cliff, with the help of Bob Anderson, and Dave Kester. Check your local listings for time and station, although it is most likely a public television station at 7:00 on Sunday.

Bob ordered the lines for the Decorah EagleCam yesterday, so we are still on schedule for December 1st. The eagles are already working on the nest, which has grown to roughly the size of a bathtub.

Here is a trailer from 'The Legend of Pale Male', which will be in theatres on November 24. I don't know if I'll have a chance to go. If you do go, please review it in our forum and let everyone know what you think. Thanks for the heads up on this!

 

A few forum members have been busy posting footage of the Fort St. Vrain eaglecam to youtube. You can check it out on our youtube channel, which has links to FortStVrain and GreenCashew's channels as well.


11/4/2010

Welcome to the Raptor Resource Project if you haven't been here before. We spent today setting up a new eaglecam for 2011. We have a great new TPZ camera plus an overall viewer and infrared setup. This year will be awesome!