Brrrrrrrr! The thermometer reads -1F right now in Decorah, and the cold has our eagles hunkered down. They deal with frigid subzero temperatures by using the least amount of energy to get the most amount of food. Ben Franklin famously called bald eagles lazy, but Ben wasn’t living outside through an Iowa winter. I’d call them pretty smart! We’ve shared this information before, but if you haven’t read it and would like to know more about how eagles cope with winter, follow this link: https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/01/17/flashback-blog-how-do-eagles-stay-warm-in-cold-weather/
Tonight we have videos from Decorah, Decorah North, and the Mississippi Flyway. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did! As always, thanks to our camera operators and video makers for finding and sharing such special moments, and to you for watching, learning, sharing and caring!
January 15, 2020: Intruder in Decorah
1/16/20: 4:20 sunset, at least three deer in the pasture – https://youtu.be/iAy0cEcPCeE. While we’re waiting for Mom and DM2 to come back into view, we’ll watch deer and sunsets. In this video from Tulsa, deer wander and prance through the pasture as the sun sets. The deer appear quite relaxed. Check 3:36 to see the very definition of ‘prance’ as the lower deer moves toward the woods, and compare that deer to the deer ‘above’ it. That deer is moving fast and has its tail up, indicating that something has frightened it. The brush and valley provide shelter in the cold weather and the pasture – and possibly some of the hay – provide forage.
1/15/20: Intruder at N2B – https://youtu.be/3RbUzgoWzFM. Who was that? Here’s what we know (and it isn’t much): an intruder visited N2B. She (we think it was a ‘she’ based on facial features) gobbled down frozen nestovers that she dug from the snow and ice at the bottom of the nest. After about twelve minutes, Mom or DM2 chased her away.
Watchers were concerned about Mom and DM2’s late response to the intruder. Are they serious about defending their territory? Could the intruder take over from Mom? There are no guarantees, but a takeover isn’t especially likely and it isn’t surprising that Mom and DM2 didn’t respond immediately. The intruder was looking for a meal, not a territory, and she arrived quietly and left quickly. Mom and DM2 had hunkered down in the (finally) cold weather and didn’t notice her stealthy arrival. And it’s been so warm that Mom and DM2 are much busier than we are used to seeing this time of year, so their sudden absence – very normal in cold weather! – seems unusual by comparison. Their absence wouldn’t be unusual in a normal (cold) winter, but it hasn’t been especially cold so far.
Decorah North Eagles
January 16, 2020: Mr. North
1/16/19: Quick visit and mating – https://youtu.be/Wlhndva8Eac and https://youtu.be/z1yjGG1lfsw. A frosty cold morning doesn’t stop the Norths from a quick visit! DNF flies in around 1:10, joined by Mr. North shortly afterwards. We get a great opportunity to compare just how much bigger she is. At 1:42, Mr. North takes the nest bowl for a spin. We see substrate fly as he scrapes with his feet, removing and loosening frozen material! DNF checks his work and does a little digging and testing of her own – check around 4:25 to watch her add some touches to the Mr.’s scrape. The camera moves in a little closer at 4:46 and DNF flies out at 5:12 to join Mr. North on the Love Branch. He begins vocalizing during her short flight (5:16) and continues vocalizing as the two mate.
I was really interested in DNF’s seeming nap, which begins at about 7:18. Both eagles had been preening, but DNF tucks her head back underneath her wings, seems to become completely motionless at about 7:24, and stays that way for at least a minute. Was that the eagle equivalent of putting on a balaclava? Eagles can remain motionless for a long time, but I’m not used to seeing them so completely restrict their vision during the daylight hours.
Mississippi River Flyway
January 16, 2020: Coyote and swans on the Flyway
1/15/20: Eagles, tundra swans and coyotes – https://youtu.be/YFix7BGOJTo. The video opens with what we think are a pair of local eagles perching together. After they fly out (4:40), we get to see swans swimming and foraging in a narrow open channel (I believe we are watching one adult and several juvenile or subadult birds). At 10:32, a coyote lopes by. We get a great look at it when it pauses at 11:02.
Wolf or coyote? Wolves aren’t known to be in this area and are larger and blockier than the animal we see here. To learn more, follow this link: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Identification. If you are interested in coyotes in general and the coyotes of San Francisco in particular, check out the Coyote Yipps blog: https://coyoteyipps.com/