Amy and I decided to take a trip to Decorah after Ferryville Bald Eagle Days to see if we could find D27. It was a sunny, cold day and the snow was deep, but we were willing we take a shot! Armed with the latest coordinates from Brett, we decided to start at the hatchery looking for her radio signal. DM2 greeted us and flew overhead as we pulled in, which we took as a good sign. John quickly spotted a sub-adult, but a quick sweep with the Yagi (and follow-up with binoculars) indicated it wasn’t D27. After watching three Great blue herons and some Canada geese, we jumped into the Raptor Mobile and headed south. We stopped on top of a hill and I got out the Yagi. We were feeling good after a good day talking about eagles, so we channeled our inner Bob and let our instincts lead us in the right direction.
We assembled the radio/yagi antenna combination and did a circular sweep being careful not wander out into the road. We always check both frequencies – one for D24 & D27. Nothing for D24, but after switching to D27’s channel we heard that familiar beep….we had her in range! We pulled south another 1/2-mile and started to repeated our routine. There was a long open field with a farmstead at the end and before I could turn on the radio, Amy shouted “There she is – I see her”! Sure enough – there she was and we gave each other a high-five and broke into a short happy dance :)
This was a monumental sighting, since she had been eluding our attempts to get a visual confirmation for _years now. WE were wondering if we were ever going to see her and now we met with success.
It looked like there was access to get closer to her, so we packed up and drove down the farmstead access road, running across several deer digging up corn spoils in a field. As we drove we crossed what looked like a raptor crime scene – feathers scattered everywhere and we ID’d the feathers on the road as pheasant. Could this have been a earlier meal for D27? We drove further down the road and finally spotted her in the top of the tree. I pulled out the camera and stretched its lens capability to get a few close-up shots. D27 looked great – rested, calm, and comfortable. We hope you enjoy these pictures (taken from a distance of about 300 feet from the Raptor Mobile, since we didn’t want to bump her from her perch) as much as we enjoyed seeing her! Stay warm and well-fed, D27!
A thousand thanks to Brett Mandernack and the staff of Eagle Valley for sharing their information and coordinates with us!