D27 Heads North!

For the last several weeks, we’ve been wondering when (and whether) D27 would head north. In 2018, she started showing migratory restlessness around April 25. She wandered around NE Iowa, making a few trips back and forth to the Decorah area before beginning her spring migration on May 8. But in 2019, her migratory restlessness didn’t begin until early May. She finally headed north on May 12, although her first long jump didn’t happen until May 20. Once she decided to head north, she did so in a hurry, flying 191 miles in just three days!

So what happened? This spring’s unusually wet weather and northern jet stream wobble might have delayed her northern flight. At first glance, high water might look like a good thing for an eagle. They like to fish, right? But it’s hard to catch fish in fast-flowing water the color of chocolate milk. D27 is entering her third year of life. Since she won’t become sexually mature until her fifth year, she doesn’t have a territory or mate to head north to. This means that she can take her time, waiting until wind, weather, and food conditions align with her desire to move north.

Turn on the news and you’ll see story after story about flood damage, breached levies, open spillways, and 1927, 1965, and 1993 Mississippi River records smashed by high water, flood stages, and flood length.  But our transmitter and banding studies show that we aren’t the only ones impacted by high water and hard weather, and we aren’t the only species dealing with a changing planet. Stay safe and well-fed, D27 – and don’t forget to write! We need you to you to tell us your story.

We have our talons crossed for everyone in the path of the Mississippi river and its many flooded tributaries. Where can we read your stories? Let us know: [email protected]. #RiverStrong