April 22, 2020: Decorah family portrait. Do you see the eagle heart?
DM2 put his flying fishwagon into high gear yesterday, delivering eight fish to Mom’s two. D36 is not only getting enough to eat, it’s a wonder that any of the eaglets can sit up at all! Sherri and Robin documented fish deliveries as follows: 9:01am (Mom), 12:45pm, 1:34pm, 2:00pm, 6:23pm (Mom), and in rapid succession: 7:07pm, 7:40pm, 745pm, 7:53pm, and 7:59pm.
April 23, 2020: The eaglets are sprouting clown clompers
Right now, the eaglets are shedding their natal down, hitting the maximum growth period for footpads and legs, and beginning to reach the peak of their weight gain curve as expressed in grams of food per day. Based on Bortolotti’s growth chart, male eaglets are gaining about 75 to 100 grams per day right now, while female eaglets are gaining 100 to 125 grams per day. Filling eaglet snack packs to bulging is a great way to assure that the eaglets have the nutrients they need, when they need them. Growing is hard work and this kind of growth rate needs a lot of food to sustain it! Enjoy the little earholes and natal down now, since we won’t be seeing them for long! Next up: pinfeathers!
Where are all these fish coming from? We’re seeing at least as many white suckers as trout coming into the nest right now. The Iowa DNR tells us that males move upstream in large schools, congregating and defending spawning territories that contain gravel riffles and rubble shoals. While suckers are spawning, eagles are raising a family. Suckers make easy prey: they are relatively exposed, there are a lot of them, they congregate in one area, and they don’t leave until spawning is done. Suckers inspired one of my favorite blogs ever – Watching Bald Eagles: https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/04/26/watching-bald-eagles/
April 23, 2020: D34, D35, and just a tiny little bit of D36
April 22, 2020: 8 pm More fish, more feeding – https://youtu.be/Vtwwy-lQr-A. “Dear, these children can still stand. We need more food!” I’m not actually sure the peaglets could stand for long, since Mom gives them dinner in bed. Check out D34’s softball-sized cropzilla at around 4:00!
April 22, 2020: DM2’s keeping Mom busy~Not 1~Not 2~Not 3, but 4 floppy fish! https://youtu.be/vMwNT84pekc. Mom must have put in a big order for fish, because DM2 was certainly delivering them! He arrives with the first fish and begins feeding, ignoring Mom’s teakettling. I though the interaction around 2:06 was especially interesing. Did DM2 hear the downstairs neighbors? He eventually leaves, only to come back with three more fish! These appear to be white suckers to me. The speed at which DM2 is hauling them in tells us that sucker spawning has finally started!
April 22, 2020: DM2 decides its family time and stays put – https://youtu.be/xZshQ3rmj7A. This video lacks sound, which gives a great chance to decipher eagle gestural communications! Mom arrives to babysit, but DM2 has zero interest in leaving his comfy bark-a-lounger! Mom’s vocalizations, stern looks, and body budging can’t shift him, so she settles down next to him and expands her wings a little bit. Working together, the two of them provide a shade tent for the little DDD’s. I absolutely loved the looks that Mom gave DM2, and his seeming attempts to ignore her were even funnier!
April 21, 2020: DM2 arrives, closeups, great look at egg tooth – https://youtu.be/X1bUs7t8IBw. This is a beautiful look at D36! Everything about this video is sweet, from little eaglet earholes to puffy natal down, emerging thermal down, pink mouths, beak lips, eyelids, eyes, and the smidge of white on D36’s beak that marks its rapidly disappearing egg tooth! D36 doesn’t have a care in the world!
Great Spirit Bluff
April 14, 2020: Nova’s brood patch
April 23, 2020: Great Horned Owl visit – https://youtu.be/vWtJv7Q2vdQ. This is not the owl from last year, who was banded, but that is about all we know. There isn’t much we can do about owls, who (like most birds) are protected under federal and state law. We could look at putting a ‘panic room’ in that owls couldn’t access if we have problems again this year. While owls can and do predate peregrine falcons, last year’s owl had been released after healing from an injury, something we know because of her band. She was found with an eye injury out on the dam, rehabbed, and released bacl where she was found. She may have targeted the nest box because she was having difficulty hunting common owl fare. We’ll see what happens this year.
April 14, 2020: Nova and her brood patch – https://youtu.be/IgxGe5qGE_c. I forgot to share this! This is extremely cool footage of Nova’s brood patch, something we don’t often get to see! I also like the look at her long, slender toes. Since falcons usually kill by striking or biting, she doesn’t need robust bald eagle, great horned owl, or red-tailed hawk toes for strangling and crushing her prey.