Happy Fri-yay, everyone! We have your Friday night nestflix mega-roll from Decorah, Decorah North, and the Flyway. The days are getting longer, the eagles are getting friskier, and nursery preparations are well underway at both Decorah nests! Fishing is good on the Flyway, where relatively warm weather has stretches of water open for chubby muskrats and hungry eagles. I enjoyed all of these videos, but really loved Mom with a huge branch, DM2’s large breakfast, and the wildlife video from the North nest. I was also fascinated by the difference in the two ‘love’ videos from the Decorah and Decorah North nests. Listen and compare the vocalizations from both! I also recommend the Flyway mayhem/foodfight: a lot is happening there, including what appears to be two adults mutually defending a fish.
Thanks as always to our camera operators and videomakers for finding and sharing special moments, our moderators for sharing information and stories, and to you for watching, learning, and caring!
1/2/20: Copulation on the skywalk – https://youtu.be/hxg3IBr89zE. The day is already 5 minutes and 54 seconds longer than it was on December 21, the shortest day of the year. While eagles will copulate outside of their fertile period, we can expect copulation to become more frequent as days lengthen and gonads swell. When the video opens, Mom is perched on the skywalk and DM2 is working in the nest. He hop flaps to the Skywalk at 2:04 and walks up to Mom. Listen very closely (I had to have headphones on) at about 2:10. In ‘The Bald Eagle’, Mark Stahlmaster writes that: “A ‘solicitation call’ occurs during courtship, just prior to copulation, and is a single soft, high-pitched note used by the female.” I think we might be hearing that as DM2 approaches. She also solicits DM2 by leaning forward and flattening her back, and does not throw him off as she has sometimes done in the past.
1/2/20: Stick delivery, some beakiness, Mom in a mood – https://youtu.be/6GkX8aFZ8rU. The video opens with Mom in the nest. DM2 flies in at 1:22 with a talonful of sticks. After a little nip, the two of them place a stick more-or-less together. Mom flies out at 2:41 and DM2 continues nestorations. Mom returns at 5:24 with a large stick. DM2 insists on helping her place it! The stick tango is followed by some breast to breast beaking and a staredown. Nestorations continue throughout the video, but I especially liked 10:25 as DM2 works on the nestbowl while Mom lumberjacks a large stick into place. He attempts to move soft materials (“Look at me!”), but Mom appears to take umbrage with a few beak snaps.
1/1/20: DM2 has breakfast, beautiful closeups, multiple sites – https://youtu.be/T6ZzK8dokE8. This is a long video, but it has a lot going on! It opens with DM2 enjoying a little breakfish on a tree next to N1. Look for a close-ups at 10:19, starting with his powerful feet and moving upward at 10:31. At 19:22, Mom flies into N1 and DM2 quickly joins her. I loved the scene at 21:53 as he comes toward the nest, pausing just above it as he gives her a gentle feather nibble. We get some really nice close-ups of Mom at 31:52. I always love to see her head, but look at those beautiful body feathers. We get great views of her nictitating membranes in the 39th minute (you might need to slow the video down to really see them). The macro close-up at 41:19 is incredible – although you might want to dab the corner of Mom’s mouth! The video concludes with some nice looks at Mom on the Y-branch following a very brief look upstream.
1/1/20: Mom flies in with a huge branch – https://youtu.be/qAeIehCXHiE. Mom must be missing Christmas, because she flew in with a regular Charlie Brown Christmas tree! Watch from the beginning of the video to see how she uses her powerful body and wings to lever the stick roughly into place. However, her power and skill can’t overcome the stick’s wonkiness, so she tries pruning twigs at 1:28. When that doesn’t work, she takes a break. Look for a very cool flyoff – you can see how she gathers herself and jumps into the air – at 1:57.
Decorah North Eagles
1/03/20: Early morning love – https://youtu.be/EdYbZPLCd7g. a: This is a long copulation for a bald eagle. b: The vocals are very interesting and are a lot different than Mom and DM2’s. In this case, Mr. North starts vocalizing first. DNF shows her willingness (or interest) by assuming the now-familiar copulation posture. Listen at :06 and :07 for what I think are DNF’s solicitation calls. Copulation follows and nestorations begin with a very cool fly-in at 4:15. While we’re used to seeing male eagles work on the nestbowl, egg cup, and substrate, DNF does some digging and loosening at beginning at around 12:06, pausing only to see what the neighborhood crows are so excited about. Many birds,including bald eagles, have learned to pay attention to their neighbors’ alarm calls. DNF eventually joins Mr. North on the spooky tree.
1/2/20: Wildlife – https://youtu.be/BskPgIIhaPA. Ginger writes: “Lots of eagle activity today, but this video contains only other wildlife, plus a beautiful sunrise.” Click ‘Show More’ below the video feed to get the complete list, including a male red-bellied Woodpecker retrieving food it might have cached, a downy woodpecker, a red-tailed hawk, a white-tailed deer, and a white-breasted nuthatch.
Mississippi Flyway Cam
1/30/20: Big fish caught, rumble, fish flop, fish skating, mayhem – https://youtu.be/gCuOHV2yV_g. That’s a big fish! An adult eagle fish flops around on the ice as it eats a large, very fresh fish. At 3:41, adult #2 joins it. Note that neither eagle is mantling and they vocalize together. Adult #2 leaves and a subadult swoops in. Adult #1 jumps up for a kickbox at 4:10 and it leaves. It comes back at 4:48 and is quickly joined by adult #2, who stands by adult #1 while it eats. Adult #1 does not react aggressively as it did to the subadult. At 14:54, the subadult makes a run – literally! – past adult #1. #1 charges it at 15:13, driving it further away. At 20:46, two more eagles show up and the mayhem/food fight begins!
Why did two adults appear to be defending a fish against an onslaught of subadult eagles? We believe at least one local pair spends time on the snag – we’ve seen them fishing, eating, and perching together on the snag and in trees on the west side of the lake. Although it’s very hard to tell at a distance, eagle #2 may be a female (brow ridge, overall size) and eagle #1 may be a male: another argument for a mated pair and a set of interactions not too dissimilar from what we’ve seen at the North nest. We’ll be watching for them in the weeks to come!
1/3/20: The one that got away – https://youtu.be/TBhpHabaA3I. Muskrat or beaver? This animal is pretty chunky for a muskrat, but the glimpse of a long, skinny tail at :10 makes it all clear! A muskrat dives into the water. Not long after that, we see a muskrat (probably the same one) swimming. Pause the video at :28 to see how it swims with its back and about half of its head above the water. This is another good id, since beavers tend to swim with their backs and heads a little deeper in the water. It scrambles onto the ice with a good-sized fish and starts eating! At 4:16 it looks up and dives for its life as a subadult eagle comes in, talons extended! The muskrat gets away with its fish…this time.