April 30, 2020: Raptor Movie Marathon and News from the Nests!

It’s your raptor movie marathon! We had a milestone moment at the North Nest earlier this week: DN12 stood on its feet for the first time on Tuesday, April 28! This is an important developmental step that will change nest life, exploration, and poop shoots as we know them. Look out below! In Decorah, Mom raises the crib rails, DM2 really wants to feed the eaglets, and we get a nice look at the not-so-tiny triple threat! The bonking is (mostly) behind us and we should see the Decorah eaglets beginning to stand in the week to come. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom, you’ll also get a nice look at a squadron of American white pelicans foraging on the Flyway.


Hatch might begin at the Dairyland Power Genoa peregrine falcon nest today or tomorrow for anyone who would like to see it: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/dairyland-power-falcon-cams/. While we are not sure which egg broke at the GSB nest, we’re staying with a hatch estimate of May 3rd. We’ll see if that turns out to be correct!

Sadly, the Wisconsin Kestrel nest failed when the female vanished. We don’t know what happened to her, although the land owners have been looking. The male tried to incubate the eggs, but could not provide all the care himself. If we find her or learn anything more, we will post it. Thank you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring!

Decorah Eagles
April 30, 2020: Family portrait. L to R: D35, D34, DM2. D36 is hidden behind D34

April 30, 2020: Family portrait. L to R: D35, D34, DM2. D36 is behind D34

April 29, 2020: Mom brings in a huge stickhttps://youtu.be/ZoZenY4ToTs. The kids are getting bigger and it is time to raise the crib rails! Mom flies in with a massive stick, which she lifts up and over the eaglets as she puts it exactly where she wants it!

April 29, 2020: Duck egg in the nesthttps://youtu.be/przpsF4sT9Y. This is just the second time we recorded a duck egg in the nest (Sherri Elliott noted that the first was on May 19 of 2015: the dragonlainey video of that can be seen here: https://youtu.be/tU5sNrR9wvE). You can see the egg starting at around D30, just underneath D34. D34 pecks at it before leaving it alone. But watch starting at 6:34, when it picks up some nesting material, moves over by the egg (stepping on it), and eventually hands the material over to D35! The three eaglets return to feeding and napping, ignoring the egg.

How did the egg get there? DM2 brought in a gravid duck! The egg fell out of its reproductive tract and was largely ignored, although our camera operators reported that Mom and DM2 seemed to be stepping carefully around it. 

April 28, 2020: Gorgeous Momhttps://youtu.be/7SefFnflBmo. This is magnificent! The video begins with Mom brooding in the rain, the eaglets curled up around her feet and beneath her chest like fuzzy eaglet slippers. As the sun comes out, Mom pops up the Mombrella to keep the eaglets cool – and possibly to dry off her wings a little bit as well. Watch the whole thing or skip to 1:36 to see Mom’s beautiful wings! We get a back view starting around 2:07.

April 28, 2020: DM2 gives Mom pieces of fish to feed eagletshttps://youtu.be/THN_8d-S4C4. There is a lot to like about this video, including the adorable interaction at the very beginning and Mom and one eaglet tracking a fly-by Canada Goose. But things really get going when DM2 brings a fish in at 1:33. Mom puts the teakettle and gives DM2 a very stern look. Instead of handing over the fish, he feeds one of the eaglets. Mom does not approve of these shenanigans and takes over by grabbing the food from DM2 at 3:03! A bucket brigade feeding begins, with DM2 sometimes managing to feed an eaglet in between passing food over to Mom. This is a classic eagle couple interaction as Mom insists on managing the feeding herself.

April 28, 2020: Eaglet closeups, Mom stands watchhttps://youtu.be/ude3HsffAHA. A lovely look at the growing eaglets, including dandelion-puff natal down, grey thermal down, and the tips of emerging juvenile covert feathers (stop the video and look very, very closely to see them). The little DDD’s all appear to be wearing peruke wigs as they blissfully slumber in the shade, watched over by magnificent Mom. Look for flexing toes, taupe talons, and some wingercizing in the 8th minute. Compare D36’s clown clompers with those of sibling D35. D35’s are larger, but D36 appears a little more gangly, since its growth is a little further behind those ginormous feet!

Decorah North Eagles
April 28, 2020: DN12 stands up on its feet!

April 28, 2020: DN12 stands up on its feet!

April 30, 2020: DN12 doesn’t like the interior, she redecorates ithttps://youtu.be/eCQLLbBo-gg. Our little North Nest eaglet is getting so big! DN12 takes advantage of its home-alone time to do a little re-redecorahting! Watch the whole video or skip to 4:04, when DN12 gets up on its feet and picks up some nest materials!Nibbling and play help DN12 learn about and build skills like standing on its feet, walking, and handling gross and fine materials with its beak – all things that will be critical for post-fledge life.

April 28, 2020: DN12 stands on its feethttps://youtu.be/iQmK4z_aZbI. Standing takes balance, corrdination, and strength. It’s the first step on the road to self-prepping food and will completely change nest explorations and poop shooting – although I’m sure some of us will be nervously clicking and shooing DN12 away from the rails! Look for DN12 to begin the trampoline phase of wingercizing as it gains more strength and confidence on its feet. Go DN12!

April 26, 2020: DNF with DN12 and look at that Crophttps://youtu.be/3b_ltknr8vM. Cropzilla? More like Mega-Cropzilla! It’s so big that DN12 has to reach to preen around it! We see a few flies in this video, but those look like calliphoridae or bottle flies, which are attracted to the scent of carrion. Given the size of DN12’s crop, I’m not sure that any nestovers are left!

Mississippi Flyway
April 28, 2020: American White Pelicans on the Flyway

April 28, 2020: American White Pelicans on the Flyway

April 28, 2020: Pelican Feeding Frenzyhttps://youtu.be/k-W2zbyRTDs. A curious bird is the pelican, for its beak holds as much as its belly can! A squadron of pelicans is foraging for food. Watch as the squad’s behavior changes at about 1:12 and the group starts a vaguely circular motion through the water. It looks to me like they may be cooperatively foraging to drive or keep small fish in shallow water – a sort of ‘pelican fence’ that makes for better foraging! We have another great look at foraging behavior here: https://youtu.be/q8y_Ovgf8Lo.

Odds and Ends

The duck egg reminded me of a movie one of our fans sent! This excerpt from Gifts of the Eagle is about a captive Golden Eagle who raised geese. It is really fun to watch – the cutest thing I’ve seen since the bobbleheads hatched! https://youtu.be/9oLMH1rfNLE