January 23, 2020: Mom’s Eye

January 23, 2020: Mom closes her eyes

January 23, 2020: We don’t often see Mom close her outer eyelids for a long time.

Everyone is concerned about Mom Decorah’s right eye. On January 20th, sharp-eyed watchers let us know that she was keeping her right eye mostly or completely shut. We saw it as well, but didn’t know what was going on. Mom’s eye wasn’t bloody and she was acting like a normal territorial adult eagle. Some rabbit fur lodged in the upper outside corner of her right eye on January 14 and ice appeared to be accumulating on her ‘eyelashes’ or rimal bristles. Was that the cause of her irritation? We crossed our talons and hoped for the best.

January 14, 2020: Rabbit fur

January 14, 2020: Mom has some rabbit fur caught in the upper left corner of her eye. Thanks to Sherri Elliott for the cap!

Our camera operators were finally able to get photos of Mom’s open right eye today. We sent the photos to Dr. Laura Johnson, who confirmed everyone’s suspicions, although she can’t diagnose the issue or determine its severity without examining Mom in person. Mom is dealing with her irritated eye much like we would: closing her eyelids, blinking frequently, and sometimes rubbing her head on her shoulder. Closing her outer eyelids will help her eye to heal and protect it from the cold winter weather, while sweeping her nictitating membrane across her eye will keep it moist and remove irritants like rabbit fur, dirt, bark, and husk bits.

January 23, 2020: A look at Mom's right eye

January 23, 2020: Mom’s right eye looks sore, but she can see with it

While we worry about Mom’s eye, she is going about the business of living in the treetops, creeks, ponds, and bluffs that make up her world. At this point, we couldn’t catch her if we tried. As of this blog, Mom can fly, land on the nest, hop-flap up to and perch on the Skywalk, and move materials around the nest. We’ll continue to monitor her and collect reports from local observers while we wait to see what happens moving forward. Thank you for watching, learning, and caring!


A special thanks to our camera operators, moderators, and especially Dr. Laura Johnson for their sharing their observations, information, and knowledge with all of us! We really appreciate it.