Happy Fri-yay! This morning’s #FridayFun includes some incredible footage of a flyway eagle food fight, a beautiful convocation of eagles, adult eagles taking themselves to the adult table, some fascinating behavior by Mr. North, mating at the North Nest, and starlings and geese. I was not able to pick favorites today – I recommend watching them all!
Having said that, I was especially struck by Mr. North’s interesting behavior and the ‘Eagles of many ages’. Eagles are so amazing – flashy, funny, serious, perhaps what we would call brave, social and loners by turn, intelligent, loud, and idiosyncratic despite some predictable behaviors! It’s easy to understand why humans have been fascinated by birds for about as long as we’ve been humans. Thanks so much to our camera operators and video makers for fantastically feeding our fascination, and to you for watching, caring, and learning!
December 5, 2015: Eagles on the Flyway
12/05/19: Eagles of many ages, taking each other’s measure – https://youtu.be/ZXfnGQdg7sc. Ice is sealing up the north and driving eagles south to their traditional wintering grounds. They are beginning to congregate along open water, including Pool Seven of the Flyway! I’m not going to step-by-step through the video (although a food squabble begins around 3:30), but it is well worth watching for food discussions, vocalizations, and fancy flying. It’s also a great opportunity to take a look at some serious mantling and a rowdy food fight! Close-ups start around 7:03.
12/05/19: Bald Eagles different ages stages colors – https://youtu.be/NThWzuXYnOQ. This beautiful video provides an excellent opportunity to admire eagles while working on your eagle aging skills as juveniles, subadults, and adults gather in convocation on the snag. The close-ups are stunning!
12/05/19: Eagle flights, landings in the eagle tree – https://youtu.be/2qmtn_zb1Ns. I’m tempted to say that the adults got tired of those pesky, squabbling juveniles and subadults, and flew off to the adult table! But it’s also possible that they maintain a perching heirarchy, with more experienced, skilled eagles – so often adults – taking the prime-est perches. Either way, it’s very cool to see!
I mentioned our fascination with birds. One of the groups of what we now call Hopewell people carved effigy pipes that included three kinds of owls, hawks, sandhill cranes, crows, quail, blue jays, eagles, kingfishers, wood ducks, and parakeet (the Carolina parakeet, now extinct, ranged into Iowa). You can see some of them here: https://www.ohiohistory.org/learn/collections/archaeology/archaeology-blog/2017/august-2017/katherine_tremper
Decorah North Eagles
December 5, 2019: Mr North at Decorah North
12/05/19: Eagle gathering – https://youtu.be/vdl5GzNEnks. Mr. North, a subadult, and perhaps a juvenile. Okay, this was fascinating! The video opens with Mr. North chilling on the stream bank with two younger eagles.At 15 seconds, the two get into a kickboxing fight. Mr. North is not interested in rowdy kids and breaks the fight up by running between the two! Watch him appear to stare them down afterwards. Once everything has calmed down, he dinosaur walks back to his original position and begins vocalizing while facing away from them! Is he calling DNF? Expressing displeasure at an intruder we can’t see? It’s fascinating to me that he seems to more-or-less accept the two eaglets he is sitting with, but is unhappy – presumably – about something else! The camera operator tried to find him (we get a great look at the North nest at the end of the video) but could not.
12/04/19: Decorah North mating – https://youtu.be/Qv6POyfaLco. Eagles are quite variable in their mating behavior. They mate well outside of their fertile period, either mate may take the top position (although this seems more common in some eagle couples than other – more variability) and, although duos are far and away the most common type of adult bond, sometimes form polygynous and polyandrous triples. Mating produces fertile eggs during an eagle pair’s fertile period and strengthens the pair bond all year long, which also tends to indicate that they enjoy it. We’re looking forward to eggs here in February!
12/05/19: Starlings and geese – https://youtu.be/dXbtlAGTcFY. Two of some of the most controversial species in North America together in one video! Like living Christmas tree ornaments, Starlings in winter plumage decorate frosted oak branches, while Canada Geese gather on the spit of land near a bend in the river.
Why are European Starlings a controversial bird in North America? They are a non-native cavity nesting species that has had a detrimental effect on many native cavity-nesting species. Many birders hate them. But they are also beautiful, vocal, quite bright, and well-adapted to urban areas, which means they are many people’s first bird love. Did you know that Mozart had a pet Starling? https://www.vqronline.org/essays-articles/2016/07/twinkle-twinkle-vogel-staar. Warning: this is a great article that contains a lot of information about Starlings, but the author also discusses Mozart’s less ‘family-friendly’ works quite frankly, with language you might not want children to read. If you think all classical music is respectable and stuffy, you are in for a surprise!