We have your Monday Nestflix Mega-roll! We’re looking forward to another egg at Xcel Fort St. Vrain sometime today and crossing our talons for an eggciting week at both Decorah nests, although we’re a little egg-asperated with the forecast for Monday and Tuesday! We have a lot packed into today’s megaroll, so take your time and enjoy the videos and information! Floridians especially, make sure to check out the last item in our odds and ends. I think you’ll enjoy it!
February 16, 2020: Mom showing her dominance again – https://youtu.be/kSoc52_hF50. I thought Mom looked interested in the video just below this one, since she appears to eyeball DM2 before walking up to him and looming over him. She never got to footing or tail-wagging, but she does here! I enjoyed this whole video – it is fun to watch Mom and DM2 working so closely together – but start watching at around 3:00 to see what a dominance interaction looks like. Mom gets tall, leans over DM2, and begins vocalizing. DM2 assumes a receptive position and she foots him before climbing on his back. He doesn’t immediately get up afterwards, which was interesting, but continues working in the nestbowl, fiddling with and breaking cornstalks to create a nice berm.
While Mom and DM2 are still bringing in some sticks, their focus seems to have shifted to the nestbowl. They – and especially DM2! – are busy making sure the substrate is loose, the foundations well dug, and the area lined with layers of soft material. This prep work is especially important given the weather. They have built a soft, well-drained area that can be hastily covered with new material following a large snowstorm – always a risk this time of the year!
February 16, 2020: Lots of nestorations, DM2 closeups – https://youtu.be/NXLU1-Afjv0. Eggs are on the way and nestorations are in high gear! Canada Geese are vocalizing as DM2 flies in. Talk about noisy neighbors! He moves soft materials around in between scanning the area, perhaps to see if the geese are excited about anything noteworthy. Mom flies in at 8:33 with a cornhusk for DM2, who keeps working under her supervision. I was pretty impressed with the nestbowl – DM2 has done an excellent job preparing it for eggs! We get some close-ups at 22:43 and spectacular close-ups at 26:33. DM2 is beautiful.
February 15, 2020: 4 pm Mom on the Y, N2B nestorations, both visiting N1 tree – https://youtu.be/PkPPBASjNBw. The video opens with a beautiful look at Mom on the Y. At 1:21, she flap-walks down to inspect what’s left of N1. She balance-beams back up at 3:24. Beginning at 3:38, we see DM2 working on nestorations in N2B. The pile of soft, fluffy grass is even bigger than it was on February 14! He works on the nest but is distracted by the vocalizations of small birds (I hear house sparrows, among others) and the neighborhood crow watch. We get another lovely look at Mom back on N1 enjoying the sunlight, and an especially treasured view of her at 12:58.
February 14, 2020: 1 pm Mom, DM2 on the nest, fit test, nice fly-aways – https://youtu.be/F9pS24mW6Sc. Mom flies in with a talon full of grass, followed by DM2 shortly after. She starts working on the nestbowl, but he quickly moves in and nudges her out of the way to take nestorations over for himself! Mom flies out at 2:03 and DM2 continues to work, laying down for a fit test at 3:23. He scrapes a little – got to get everything just right! – and fine-tune fiddles a bit before flying out.
Decorah North Eagles
February 16, 2020: Busy Mr North – https://youtu.be/jmtakp_l6a0. Mr. North’s work is never done! I especially loved the view of nest starting at 2:26 – I would dearly love to know how much it weighs right now! – and the background lows of cattle and chirps of small birds. Mr. North brings a huge stick into the nest and wrestles it into place before settling down to work on the nest bowl. DNF is perched nearby. We get a very cool fly-out/flyby of Mr. North at 4:58 and close-ups of DNF starting at 5:10. Mr. North flies back into the nest and DNF joins him. Look for an especially cute moment at 7:12’ish as DNF goes head to head and shoulder to shoulder with him in what looks like a tender moment. After some fly ins and fly outs, Mr. North finds the rabbit nestovers at 11:16 and flies out to eat them.
February 16, 2020: Three copulations – https://youtu.be/oPjM3bnvyO0. I believe Lizzy titled this ‘Two copulations’ at first, but the eagles surprised us with a third! Watch DNF in the second of the three, at about 30 seconds. Stalmaster wrote about female eagles soliciting copulation. Mom and DNF both seem interested in bonding, but they express their interest very differently. Mom Decorah tends to jump on DM2, while DNF tends to vocalize and assume a receptive position for Mr. North. I think being able to see this behavior at multiple nests really shows eagles as individuals that have unique likes, tastes, and preferences: even in areas where we wouldn’t expect it!
February 15, 2020: DNF Casts a Pellet – https://youtu.be/7yf7cdrPWDU. What happens to indigestible bits like fur and bone? Eagles compress them into a pellet and spit them back up! This video gives us a great look at the process.
February 14, 2020: Valentine’s gift from Mr North to DNF (rabbit limb) and Norths vist nest twice – https://youtu.be/5d8WszTLgqI. This video will not be for everyone, since we get a pretty good look at Mr. North’s Valentine gift! The video opens with a hungry DNF wheedling and softly vocalizing over Mr. North’s food gift. While she eats, he works on the nestbowl. As we’ve seen in Decorah, nestorations here have shifted over to nestbowl building and prep. Mr. North is an excellent eagle-tect, scraping and rolling in the nest and arranging the egg-berm just so as DNF eats. If it doesn’t bother you, watch her eat the rabbit in the sixth minute. It’s amazing how deftly she can maneuver her large beak and tongue to tear off tiny bits and separate flesh from fur! After eating, she settles down to take a turn on the nestbowl.
Great Spirit Bluff Falcons
February 16, 2020: GHO visits the bluff – https://youtu.be/RVOJDBPdHkM and https://youtu.be/RVOJDBPdHkM. The morning after we saw the GHO, I woke to an email from Karla Bloem, founder and director of the International Owl Center in Houston, MN. I had wondered if it was the same owl that had killed nestling falcon Kira last year. It wasn’t. Karla wrote: “It’s a male this time (you can tell from the hoot, but it’s a funky male hoot)…” This is fascinating! Do we have a male looking to attract a female and breed, or is he just wandering through? At 10:41, he becomes very interested in something outside our field of view and flies up to perch on the camera arm. At 11:42, he starts gnawing on the microphone cover. We get a really beautiful view of him rousing and preening in the 12th minute.
I can’t tell male from female owls by listening to them hoot. If you’d like to practice your skills and/or compare hoots, listen to this video and check out Karla’s information on Great Horned Owl vocalizations at https://www.internationalowlcenter.org/ghovocalizations.html.
Odds and Ends
We’ll be writing more extensively on this, but I wanted to share this link to the federal register’s proposal to expand legal take under the migratory bird treaty act: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-MB-2018-0090-0002 With bird populations in decline, this proposal moves us in the wrong direction. A few more links:
Researchers study how birds retweet news: https://phys.org/news/2020-02-birds-retweet-news.html. I thought this was interesting because we so often see our eagles responding to other birds. The neighborhood crow watch almost always gets their attention. Canada geese sometimes get their attention. And little birds can annoy them, but they don’t seem to treat them as reliable bearers of information in the same way they do crows. This article sheds some light on the wood wide web information network!
And a little extra something for blog followers: A migration in the Key West, Florida area was so big, it showed up on radar! https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/17/us/migratory-birds-weather-radar-key-west-trnd/index.html. Cornell has a map that identifies the routes of many migratory species: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/mesmerizing-migration-map-which-species-is-which/.