Whatta Day: Outdoor School!

Written by Sherri Elliott

Are you seeing the empty nest and thinking the season is over?

Au Contraire … it’s just beginning for the Decorah Fledglings as they start Outdoor School! While we may not see them all the time, Mom does, and they know where she is too as she takes different vantage spots to keep an eye on them and teach them the skills they will need becoming more independent over the next 6-8 weeks before they finally disperse. We’re so fortunate to have the multiple cams at N2B, the old nest at N1, and the Hatchery Pavilion Cam for other views, keeping them in our viewfinder and we’ve seen how proficient they are becoming with flying and landings and finding all of Mom and Dad’s favorite spots to hang out.

We know from fans visiting on site that they are flying all over, perching together at times or solo finding their own favorite spots, and Mom has been seen feeding them off the nest as well as returning to their N2B nest for fish drops. We saw Mom’s drop last night with D29 the first to come home, mantle and claim, followed by D30 who came in for the squeee and steal from D29, and a short time later D31 flew in and wasted no time to rush and mob D30 to pirate the prey. And all the time the Dinner Theatre played out, Mom had the prime perch position at the top of the Skywalk to watch and assess the progress of her little dddarlings showing off their best raptor dining manners while tuning out the squeee orchestra.

This morning D29 was on the beloved Y-Branch at N1 and started the screenami siren seeing Mom below at the stream and knowing that Breakfish would soon arrive. D29 got more and more excited anxiously following Mom’s flightpath and decided to fly off and follow only to be outsmarted by Mom who circled around the N1 tree to encourage D29 to give chase … a quick lesson in learning to keep your eye on the prize if you want to pilfer or pirate prey from somebirdie. Mom’s beautiful fly in over the Y-Branch and into the nest was duplicated by D29 hot on her heels … err, talons .. to be the first to mantle and claim. D30 followed in a short time later to see what s/he could claim. A brief rain dance on the Y was their post breakfish recess, and Mom came in with another fish a little later with the second fish drop. Our cam missed Mom and it seemed that D30 just plucked it from a nest branch, but it the beak or talon steal was obvious as the fledgling wingflapped down to the nest to eat the prize. So where was D31? Well, we see what you see on cam, but we do know that s/he was spotted earlier in the Maple tree, and was perched for quite a while according to visitors on site.

What about UME? Well, his name has been changed to Decorah Male since we now have enough photographs to identify him, and we know he still is a constant presence. He was flying for a bit yesterday by himself, and also with Mom. No one yet has reported he is offering any assistance in the fledglings lessons, but that may be because Mom has already established the rules early on that the eaglets are hers and her responsibility, and he has consistently abided by her terms. We’ll see if that changes, but we do know that he has posed no threat at all to Mom or the eaglets since he first arrived.

As for Mom … She continues to amaze and astound us daily with her devotion to her and Dad’s eaglets doing dual duty roles as a single mom. I’ve kept a daily prey count since Dad disappeared and it might surprise you to know that after all the pantree provision were depleted that she has brought in over 430 fish since 4-22. There’s more, but just to whet your appetite I’m saving the final tally of all prey purveyed until the season winds down.

The photo above shows D29 watching Mom (circled) on the fallen tree in the stream below N1.

We have some videos below from all the action last night and this morning and say thanks to our videomakers for saving the events for us.

6-25 – Sqeeeing D’s Flying In For A Fish – mocha mama
(Video starts with panning and lovely views of the natal nest territory the DDD’s are discovering)

6-26 – D29 at the Y and also spotted mom – Lizzie G Eaglespirit
(at about 8:24 into the video, arrow shows Mom below N1 at stream)

6-26 – Eaglets on N1 – tulsaducatai