May 19, 2019: Decorah North and GSB Nestflix!

Tonight we have a Decorah North and GSB mega-roll for everyone! It’s an exciting time in our nests as eaglets learn the skills they will need for life post-fledge and falcons gain weight, grow their second coat of feathers, and begin to get tiny little pinfeathers at the tips of their wings!

Tonight’s videos feature great close-ups, superb storm footage, DN9 subduing a fish, a loud PS, and an adorable interaction between DN9 and Mom DNF. A lot of you have asked about fawn deer coming into the North nest. I included some information about fawns and fawn mortality below the ‘fawn for dinner’ video link, along with another link to a great blog on the subject. At GSB, Michelle continues to deal with a trespassing GHO and we get cute overload during second breakfast for the little falcons!

We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did! A quick note to people who are subscribed to the blog: I don’t yet have a way to provide you with videos from or posts about just one of our nests. I’m working on that and hope to have it in place next fall. However, if you unsubscribe from an email about, say, the Decorah north eagles, you won’t get notifications on the Decorah eagles. I’ll let everyone know once I have a way that people can pick and choose.

Decorah North Eagles

5/19/19: Bluejay Dive bombing DNF – It dive bombs her as she sits and dries out in heraldic pose, but can’t get her to move!

5/18/19: Fawn for dinner – Warning: some viewers may find this disturbing. DNF feeds DN9 the remains of a fawn deer.

We are often asked where these deer come from. Fawns are at their most vulnerable to predators in their first few hours and days of life. They can’t move quickly, they can’t fight well, and they are left alone by their mothers, hidden in grass and brush to avoid attracting the notice of predators. An adult bald eagle would be capable of finding and killing a newly-born fawn deer.

Having said that, fawns die on their own. A study done in Delaware found that 55% of fawns died within 90 days of birth in an area completely absent of predators. Causes included emaciation, disease, and birth defects. I suspect that this spring’s 30-40 degree temperatures and days of rain could also cause hypothermia, especially in a small fawn deer that spends most of its time lying on the ground.

So in short, we don’t know whether the eagles are killing fawn deer, finding them dead, or finding the remains of deer killed by predators like coyote. I did notice that this deer seemed to have some light striping on its hoof, which could signal piebaldism, a condition often linked to fatal birth defects.

If you would like to read more about fawn deer, predators, and survival, check out this series of blogs by researcher Melinda Nelson: If you’d like to read more about what’s on the menu at the North nest (including information specific to eagles and deer), follow this link:

5/17/19: DN9 sure loves its Mommy – This is just cute! DN9 interacts with Mom, walking around, chattering at her, and nibbling at her beak before settling in for an extended preening session. Check its back at around 6:01 to see that it still has a lot of its thermal down underneath its cloak of black feathers.

5/16/19: Some closeups of DN9 and DNF – Exactly as the title says – really nice closeups of the two, including tongues (both are panting), DN9’s long sharp talons, face, and body, and DNF’s head.

5/16/19: Way to go DN9 – Grab that fish! DN9 has learned its food lesson – it doesn’t need to wait for Mr. North or DNF to parcel out the fish! Mr. North brings a floppy fish to the nest (it looks like a young catfish). DN9 grabs it and subdues it – and then stands around squeeing while Mr. North starts unzipping it, watching attentively as Dad demonstrates the correct way to carve up breakfish!

5/16/19: DN9 riding the storm alone – The opening wall cloud footage is incredible. DN9 sits low and flat in the nest as the wind rodeo begins! Mr. North briefly comes to the babysitting branch but leaves quickly. DN9 starts wingercizing(!) in the storm at 3:37, but stops and sits low in the nest after a gust of wind blows it backwards. The nest really starts rocking, moving back and forth and up and down by feet! We see flashes of lightning and hear the rain begin around seven minutes. The worst of the storm is over quickly and we see a soaked young eaglet at about 15 minutes. Mr. north comes in with a very fresh fish at 16:24. He subdues it quickly and starts passing fish to a squeeing DN9.

So why didn’t DNF or Mr. North stay on the nest? They were perched nearby, but may have needed to shelter against the wind. It is hard for a large, aerodynamic bird to keep from being blown away without adequate cover. It also might be dangerous to stay in the nest given that DN9 no longer needs brooding. We’ve seen parents flipped up and dislodged from the nest by wind before. Staying out of the nest prevents Mr. North and DNF from accidentally dislodging DN9. I liked how quickly Mr. North arrived with food and a little comfort once the storm was done.

5/15/19: DN9 casts multiple pellets – This is not the first time we’ve seen DN9 cast multiple pellets – not a surprise given all of the inedible materials it eats! I loved the opening close-up and a quick glimpse of the plants beginning to grow around the periphery of the nest.

5/15/19: Don’t Bite The Talon That Feeds You & Bone Down The Hatch – DN9 grabs DNF’s talon at about :02 (slow the video down to see it). You can see why parents prefer food drops as eaglets get bigger, faster, and more insistent on food! After DNF leaves, perhaps to escape another talon bite as DN9 squees for food, DN9 picks at old bones and eventually eats what looks like a scalpula. I remain absolutely amazed at what DN9 manages to get down!

5/14/19: A good first step toward DN9 self-feeding – The fish was zipped opened when Mr. North flew in with it, but DN9 grabbed it and mantled over it while screeing for food. Mr. north watched until DNF flew over. However, she didn’t grab the fish and begin feeding despite DN9’s insistent pleading. DN9 carried the fish around the nest for a minute or so, but eventually gave up on the pleading and began eating on its own.

This was an interesting video for a number of reasons. We’ve seen DN9 eat nestovers before, but this was a pretty fresh fish. While DN9 is pleading for feeding, neither parent fed it. Neither DNF nor Mr. North made an attempt to grab the fish for DN9 or for themselves, although DNF stayed nearby. Self-feeding is an extremely important skill outside the nest, and it looks like they both felt it was time for DN9 to start learning!

5/13/19: Breakfish, Wingersizing & Noisy PS – I liked the breakfish, but I really enjoyed the end of this video. DN9 is 43 days old and standing and walking really well! After Mr. North leaves at about 8:44, it plays with a little fluff before getting up for a vigorous round of wingercizing at 9:34. After standing starts, true wingercizing begins! The noisy PS comes at 10:45!

Great Spirit Bluff

6/18/19: Second breakfast for Tiny Two at Great Spirit Bluff – Cute overload! The little falcons are seven and five days old.Second down begins emerging at six days, and tracts can clearly be seen on the belly and legs by eight days. Although we can’t see them well, the sheaths of the primaries are emerging along their wings. The oldest has more – far more – than doubled in size and weight, and both falcons can sit, stand, and eat breakfast well! In this video, the oldest falcon is on the left and the youngest falcon is on the right!

5/17/19: GHO back and Michelle on defense mode – Slow down the video and start watching at 27 seconds. In the 28 second, you will see something fly up from near the nestbox (I cannot see where it was sitting, although it almost looks like it was sitting on left or camera side of the box). It flies up and perches on the cliff and we see eyeshine. The camera operator moves in and we see the owl.