We have videos below, but we wanted to answer some of your questions first! Why is Mom off her eggs? Is DM2 really helping her? It’s cold – why aren’t they continuously incubating? Is the egg cup big enough?
On eggs and incubation: We don’t have any guarantee that all of the eggs will hatch, but embryos can suspend fairly easily and with no damage very early in development. Mom and DM2 have to control for temperature and humidity. This means that they have to let the eggs breathe once in a while, even if that means exposing them to cold. Remember the endless polar vortex of 2013/2014? Mom laid egg #2 in -20F air temps and a -50F windchill. We saw her and Dad off the eggs even in very cold weather, but all three eaglets hatched. Remember, the eagles are warm, the nest bowl is deep, and we don’t see any signs of freezing, cracking, or damage. We’re trusting the eagles and hopeful for a good outcome!
Is the egg cup big enough? Scraping, shimmying, rolling, digging, and maybe even a little melting around the bottom have enlarged the egg cups at both nests. We’ve often wondered why the Dads do so much bowl/cup construction when the Moms spend more time sitting. Given the size difference between males and females, it seems likely that a nest constructed around her size and shape might be a little too big for him to keep a lid over the eggs in a cold Iowa winter. So in short – the egg cups at both nests are just right – not too big and not too small!
And now for egg-laying, shift changes, nest visitors, a sticky gift at the North Nest, and some amazing close-ups. Thanks to our hard-working camera operators and video makers for sharing these incredible moments with us!
2/27/19: 4pm shift chance, a look at the eggs – https://youtu.be/qflpq5uqKPk. Wow – DM2 has a beaksicle! He gets off the eggs and the camera switches to a top view, giving us a nice look at the husky insulation Mom and DM2 have piled around the egg cup and the eggs nestled within it. He stands over the eggs for a bit and flies off. Mom comes in for her shift not long afterwards!
2/27/19: Mom leaves the nest and a blue jay visits – https://youtu.be/qirh7MXOz2c. The video opens with a nice view of Mom on the nest. She leaves and we get a great look at both eggs nestled deep inside the egg cup. At 2:54, a blue jay shows up and searches for nestovers quite close to the eggs. It nibbles a little frozen protein before DM2 flies in for his shift about six minutes later.
2/26/19 @ 6:44 PM CT – Mom lays her second egg: https://youtu.be/IvCsl3GudAE. When we first see her, she is laying down – but if you look closely, you can see that she is breathing relatively deeply. She stands up at 1:15 and we can see her contractions. At 7:41, she changes position and puffs up her feathers. Her contractions become stronger. She changes positions again and leans over at around 12:35. The final push starts at about 20 minutes. She has a sharp movement at about 20:45 and appears to come out of her laying trance at around 21:00. We get a nice view of the eggs at 21:37! Two more videos: https://youtu.be/DdvkxcKzQwg and https://youtu.be/OtnvB77cSr8.
Decorah Eagles North
2/27/19: Mr.N In With Grasses&Flies Off With Nestover Prey – https://youtu.be/UUBlZrWVH3A. Nestorations are never done! Mr. North brings in fresh insulation to replenish the nest, but DNF doesn’t appear to want to get up! He nibbles at a frozen lump by her tail at 1:17. She gets up and spreads a little grass while he grabs some frozen turkey and flies off for a snack. DNF settles back over the eggs.
2/27/19: Morning shift change! https://youtu.be/VgxezKUPJ_0. Look honey, I brought you a stick! Mr. North shows up for morning shift change and brings a sticky gift to DNF, which he places on her back! She clambers out of the deep egg cup and the two vocalize (make sure you have your sound on!). She leaves and he makes himself at home!
2/26/19: Close-ups of the male – https://youtu.be/xKWtJWa8V6Q. I have nothing to say but wow! These are spectacular! We get super-closeups at 6:43 that show us every little bit of detail, including his upper and lower eyelids, nictitating membrane, cere and nares, feathers, and gently accululating fine snow on his back.