Written by Sherri Elliott
It’s been a pretty frantic 24 hours anxiously awaiting news in the search for D32 who flew off the Skywalk branch about 6:03PM CT last evening, and even more stressful when sibling D33 fell off the Skywalk in nearly the same place about 2:39PM CT this afternoon.
The search team headed out early this morning led by RRP Board Director and eagle biologist Brett Mandernack and wildlife assistant Ryan Schmitz. Both quickly got to work and searched a boxed area from the bridge to about 0.5 miles upstream past the nest and were unable to locate D32 or even get a vocalization. They also watched Both Mom and DM2 carefully, looking for clues in flight paths hoping one of the parents would lead them to a spot where they might have been caring for D32. There was no luck on locating the eaglet, but RRP is putting plans in place to continue on with a search again tomorrow and will monitor the parents travels more closely.
D33 had been exploring the Skywalk branch since yesterday, not branching yet, but carefully and skillfully had walked up to perch and look about, and ventured a bit further with each exploration and both DM2 and Mom kept the eaglet company perched nearby or in the nest. This afternoon D33 climbed up to about the same spot as D32 had when she/he lost its footing and fell. Within about 15 minutes RRP was notified by Iowa DNR that D33 was located, retrieved, and was taken to the Decorah Fish Hatchery for a visual inspection. It was determined that she/he was a bit underweight, but no other obvious injuries were noted. It was decided to transport the eaglet to S.O.A.R. (Saving Our Avian Resources) where D33 would be under skilled veterinary and rehab care to be evaluated and stabilized. We will have no further information about D33’s condition until such time that the veterinary exam is completed, and RRP will provide that information as soon as it is known.
We very much appreciate the many caring comments we have received on our Facebook page and will continue to update you on both D32 and D33 as soon as we know anything. For some of you, the wait has been excruciating (and for us too), but we respect that our incredible search team has put all its efforts into the painstaking process of gently moving in slow cautious steps in the dense and tall underbrush rather than stop every so often for a progress report … which had pretty much been no sighting all day.
We know that the gnats and black flies are worrisome to everyone and we cannot begin to answer if that may have been the impetus to any fledge, flight, or fall, and we ask you to please wait until we have more information after D33’s evaluation … otherwise, we would only be speculating … something that we don’t like to do as a research site.
Lastly, we would like to thank you for your patience as we troubleshoot and try to stabilize our website and chat spaces. It is a priority for us to have those up and working as soon as possible, and we greatly appreciate your understanding and support. While we wait to resolve both eagle and technology issues we ask you to continue to be patient with each other, with us, and let’s please all keep talons crossed for our beloved Decorah Eagle family and successful outcomes.
Photo of D33 watching DM2 coming in with a fish.