New female at Decorah North Nest
We have finished combing through archival photos from 2016 to present and have confirmed that we have our same male eagle (Mr. North) going into the 2019 nesting season, but we have had a change in our female eagle (Mrs. North). We are not sure what happened to Mrs. North to prompt this change, but we know it happened in the summer of 2018. With the crazy up and down year that 2018 was at the Decorah North Nest, this seems like just one more sad realization in their story. Our conclusion on their identities is based on the unique identifiers that we have been archiving since this nest cam was started in 2016. By far the most reliable identifier we have is the eagle eyes and iris patterns. Other unique identifiers that we used were beak shape, feather colors (including distinctive white feathered pantaloons for Mrs. North) and other physical characteristics. Since feathers are molted, we went to our expert eagle panel to ask about the white feathers. How distinctive were they in adult eagles? While it may not hold true in all eagles, unusual adult feather colors can hold true across molt and are a useful ID mark when they do.
Mrs. North was clearly a unique eagle, loving partner, doting mother and excellent provider. As Bob Anderson had wished, our three years of observation allowed additional insight into the life of ‘country eagles’ compared to their city cousins at the Decorah fish hatchery nest. We know you will all have your own special memories of Mrs. North, and ours include her trademark twirl of the corn husk; braving through methomyl poisoning from tainted prey in the 2017 season; loss of her first egg in the 2018 season and her remarkable ability to produce a second clutch of two eggs while incubating them to hatch in over of foot of Spring snow. We’ll also remember her unique ability to use deadly talons to gently foot her eggs to roll them, as well as her penchant for cow placenta – aka cowghetti. Her absence leaves as much of a void as the loss of 5 of their 8 offspring, but we will always remember her legacy.
Thank you for your patience while we compiled all the data to dot the “i”s and cross all the “t”s with this assessment. It’s bittersweet. We are sad about this change, yet happy that Mr. North has a mate and it is promising that they will lay eggs for the coming nesting cycle. Our new female looks strong and is certainly a beautiful eagle. Our new pair is establishing their partnership with multiple copulations caught on camera, and strengthening their bond and commitment. With the loss of the nest in August, an RRP nest rebuild, and our eagle pair adopting it and customizing it as their own, the future looks bright at the Decorah North Nest! Note that Mr North will continue to have the same name and the new female will be DNF for Decorah North Female. She will not be known as Mrs North (that name is now retired) and she will not be Mom North either. Thank you!