We have videos from Decorah, Decorah North, and the Mississippi Flyway! Before you start: following a Bald Eagle food fight on the Mississippi River, we asked what you would call a group of quarrelsome Bald Eagles. Convocation is the correct term, but it seemed too formal to apply to a full-on eagle food fight! Here are your suggestions, in posted order: Rabblers, Congress, Recess, Carnival, Squee, Woohoo, Rave, Quarrel, Squabble, Gawk, Commotion, Confusion, Frat Party, Scrum, and Rabble Rousers! Thank you so much for your suggestions: we love them all!
12/12/19: Decorah eagles – https://youtu.be/3QNJWb3KFBs. The crib rails are piled high and deep as DM2 flies in with his talons full of cornhusks! He begins breaking them down, stopping occasionally to look around or fiddle with a stick. Mom flies in at 4:13, almost crashing into the tree (stop the video at 4:14 for a look at how close she came). She begins breaking down cornhusks while he moves to sticks. At 5:48, he turns his attention to a wonky stick, putting his back into it as he wrestles it into place. We get to see some great close-up single and dual work at 10:00, and lumberjack DM2 fly in with a large stick (and a flurry of wings) at 15:30. Check out the size of the stick – it must be well over three feet long and it is extremely wide!
12/12/19: DM2 brings a stick, Mom joins him to supervise – https://youtu.be/cZ5J2mlx2lA. The video opens with DM2 working on the nest. He moves sticks and shreds cornhusks to create a soft, fluffy layer that carpets the floor of the nestbowl. Mom flies in with a stick and DM2 helps her get it into place before turning his attention back to the flooring. We are just starting close-ups around 5:10 when DM2 flies out.
We see a fair amount of adult down shed in this video. Birds often molt during periods of reduced activity. While it might seem counterproductive for bald eagles to molt during some of the coldest weather of the year, they are less active in deep cold and during incubation. Look for more feathers to fly as egg-laying approaches!
12/11/19: Mom, DM2, and sunset views – https://youtu.be/5Gum0AP5MP0. The video opens with a stunning sunset as the sun sinks in a blaze of gold, rose, purple, and blue. At 1:21, we see Mom and DM2 getting in some last minute nestorations before nightfall shuts everything down. Mom fiddles with some nest materials as DM2 flies in – look for his shadow to precede him! The two briefly work together until Mom flies to the Skywalk, leaving DM2 to fine tune the nestbowl. He sits down to check his work at 3:21, scraping and moving materials to get everything just right! He must have done a good job, since he spends over two minutes in the bark-a-lounger before getting up to fiddle some more. After both eagles fly out, the camera operator gives us a nice sunset tour. It’s truly Decorah-dise!
Decorah Eagles North
12/12/19: North Eagles – https://youtu.be/zKZaOjUACeE. It was a snowy morning at the North nest, but that didn’t stop Mr. North and DNF from visiting the nest. I really enjoyed seeing them together – I always like seeing Mr. North attending to his formidable eagle partner – but I really enjoyed the gentle beaking at around 1:17! We also get a super-cool look at nestbowl work at 4:17 as Mr. North lays down to dig and loosen the materials under what will become the egg cup. You can see how he uses his feet to dig and hold while he rolls his breast to form a dish. He sits for a long time – who wants to get up in that weather? – before flying off.
12/11/19: The moon at Decorah North – https://youtu.be/7_kV67Ps_1g
12/11/19: Moonscapes on the Flyway – https://youtu.be/5Gum0AP5MP0.
12/8/19: Goodbye, Sandhill Cranes! https://youtu.be/2WqCRULYJaU. If you don’t know how sentimental I can get about migrating Sandhill Cranes, you will now. The sound of Sandhill Cranes never fails to move me. The oldest known fossil of this graceful, ancient species is around 2.5 million years old, while the modern Mississippi River was formed by glacial retreat 10,000 years ago and reformed by massive earthworks just 82 years ago: the blink of a bristled eye in Sandhill Crane time. Perhaps its cries echoed from the walls of the Driftless when the rest of the Upper Mississippi was covered in ice. Perhaps it was one of the first birds to fly the length of the river when the glaciers retreated. Perhaps First Peoples observed and celebrated its comings and goings: surely it moved them. The sound of Sandhill Cranes never fails to move me.
Good luck, cranes. We’ll see you again next year!