Where is eagle D27? Her latest ping put her over by Palisades Park on the east side of Decorah. She’s been busy criss-crossing the area, flying over or not-far-from beloved landmarks like Mabe’s Pizza, Luther College, and (on April 15) the hatchery. We’ll see if we can order D27 a fish pizza to go before she starts her journey north!
April 30, 2020: D27’s latest map
When will D27 leave? Last year, she started wandering widely on May 11 and headed north quickly on May 20th. May is a popular time for non-territorial young eagles to leave for their summering grounds, although local conditions and ice/snow cover can influence timing. With the arrival of warm weather and other migratory birds (my yard is full of passerines as I write this), D27 may be spurred to act sooner rather than later! I’m partial to May 4th or 5th, myself, and someone else mentioned May 11 as a possibility once again.
May migration: all eagles, all years tracked
How does this compare to other bald eagles? Wintering territorial adults head north early since they need to get back, re-establish bonds, and make babies. Non-territorial youngsters can linger south a little later, but when they move north, they tend to do it pretty quickly! Compare our eagles with this beyond cool bald eagle abundance animation from Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and E-Bird, and remember that we are getting a front seat view of migration on the Flyway!
Do the eagles we see hanging out on the Flyway know one another? Do they form affinity-based associations and sub-groups, or are their gatherings based on happenstance, food, and foraging similarities? More study is needed to determine whether or not they interact with one another as individuals (‘Hi, Frank!’) versus opportunities (‘Ooooo – someone has fish!’). Still, it’s nice to think that D27 will enjoy some company on her long journey north. We wish her favorable winds and fair skies!
A thousand thousand thanks to Brett Mandernack and the staff of Eagle Valley for sharing their knowledge, expertise, and maps with us! If you’d like to explore the travels of any of the eagles we’ve tracked, please visit our interactive maps at https://www.raptorresource.org/learning-tools/eagle-map/.