What can we say about 2018, a year of triumph and tears? We were excited for eaglets and amazed by Mom and Dad’s commitment to protecting them through the April snow. I remember getting a phone call about Dad on April 19th. While I was initially unworried, my sense of dread increased as Mom peal-called with no response. Where was Dad? Why didn’t he respond? As hours turned to days and search parties failed to turn up anything, we were forced to accept that Dad was gone.
Our respect for Mom turned to awe as she brought in fish after fish for her eaglets while coping with the disappearance of Dad and the presence of an unknown male eagle. She flawlessly brought the eaglets to fledge and has continued to care for them and teach them as they learn to fly, hunt, and practice their eagle table manners: mantling, stealing, squabbling, and running! As hard as it is to believe, the latest clutch of DDD’s will soon disperse. Dad’s last clutch – his final legacy – will fly into the wider world thanks to Mom’s diligent care.
At Decorah North, we fretted endlessly on the delivery room floor. Why wasn’t Mrs. North laying eggs? What was going on? Our joy and relief turned to grief when Mrs. North’s first egg broke in the wee hours of March 16. We celebrated when she reclutched in mid-April, but mourned again on May 25 when newly hatched eaglets DN7 and DN8 succumbed to heat and blackflies.
This was also a year of some hard decisions. We committed to leaving the 3DDD’s in the nest instead of asking for permission to rescue them. We felt that it would be cruel to take Mom’s young from her and we saw no reason she couldn’t support her family. But I can’t deny that we worried about it. Could Mom really do it? What would happen if an eaglet died, or if Mom disappeared and didn’t come back. Ultimately, it came down to Bob’s maxim: “Trust the eagles!” We’re so glad we did!
Throughout everything, our moderators on Decorah chat, Decorah North chat, Facebook, and Explore were doing their best to explain, comfort, console, and provide correct information to a whole lot of people in a timely fashion. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work on behalf of the Decorah eagles, the Decorah North eagles, and the GSB falcons. They did a wonderful job in a very difficult year. Did we get everything right? No. But we got the most important decisions right, we did our best to recognize mistakes, and we have some great ideas for next year.
While our moderators educated and explained, our camera operators gave us an unparalled look into the world of our eagle and falcon families. Their stunning close-ups allowed us to see every feature and catalog our eagles and falcons for future ID, and we’ve been treated to a wonderful look at life after fledge in Decorah!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of our volunteers. We could not do it without you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you all make us the best site on the web!
To participate in the last formal chat of 2018, go here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/decorah-eagles/. You are also very welcome to comment with your memories and thoughts on our Facebook page, and look for another thanks later today!
After today, I will retire this photo of Mom and Dad. But it remains my favorite photo of the two and even as we move forward into the future, I will never forget Dad and the special role he played in helping to educate Mom, or the role both of them played as wildlife ambassadors and inspiration to the world. And to Bob – your vision set me on another path. It hasn’t been an easy path, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank you for all you did. We stand on the shoulders of giants. https://youtu.be/QMPbzWYKdMQ