Did You See? DN12’s Home-Alone Schooling!

by Sherri Elliott

If you’ve been thinking about calling Eaglet Protective Services to report DN12 being left unattended for longer periods or not getting enough to eat … Don’t! DN12 has thousands of aunties and uncles that are keeping eyes fixed on the little darling, and there’s no doubt that parents Mr. North and DNF are close by also checking on their eaglet. At 6 weeks old, DN12 is half-way through the nesting season and continues to meet or exceed milestones and benchmarks, and there are new lessons to learn now at this stage including asserting independence while being homeschooled.

While the feedings have dropped down from double-digit drops to just a handful daily, there is no shortage of food, and DN12 has proved that today walking around the nest and moving fluff to find buried treasure to eat … and showing increased skill, strength and dexterity in holding down pieces of prey leftovers to rip some bites off found bits, and even showed that being a bone collector runs in the family by downing a decent-sized leg bone with just a few gulps. Yum!!

Mr. North and mama DNF each came in today for a welfare check and came bearing gifts. DNF had a cornstalk to play with, and Mr. North brought a straw root ball. Now don’t go thinking that they went away on a day vacation and brought back lousy souvenirs because both of these presents are toys as well as enrichment. Toting the cornstalk is practice for beak loading while walking around the nest, or for coordination while shredding said stalk. The root ball present is also an opportunity to practice shredding, as well as a ‘food lure” of sorts allowing the eaglet to use it as pounce practice sharpening and strengthening leg muscles and talons to “strike and kill” that dirt clod, and in time will also be talon-toted around the nest while learning about dragging a meal for future flight. Pretty clever, huh? And DN12 has already enjoyed both enrichment tools.

When not exercising brain power for future hunting and prepping skills, DN12 found that Eaglet Yoga was a new way to stretch one wing just like its parents do, and showed skill and strength with a foot pull up while its wing stretch hit the far crib rail. Exercise is also standing and walking for longer periods of time on those big yellow clown cloppers and DN12 is managing to cover almost every inch of the nest bed while exploring.

Another milestone was reached yesterday during wing-flapping exercises. DN12 has been lifting one leg and then the other for a few days gaining a little bit of confidence before stomping its foot down on terra firma, but did get about an inch of air time yesterday with both feet up at the same time. Today was even better for measuring liftoff, and with stronger push-ups on the tarmac, the future aviator found that he/she graduated to hoppersizing instead of just wingersizing! Hurray!

Even at rest DN12 keeps a close eye on the natal nest area, scanning the little birds that fly by or come to visit. Some have been welcome, and some have not and get a wingwhap, squeee or hiss just like the little squirrel that was sent packing by our not-so-pint-sized nest defender. Visual acuity is noted as DN12 keeps track of the surroundings from favorite perch places along the front pasture side rails where the parents can be seen in creekside trees or from the left side rails to check for them on the Love Branch, or in the middle of the nest with a glance upward when one or both parents are on the Overhead Branch. We can often tell when a parent is sighted as DN12’s body posture lowers to a crouch, and squees are heard as an incoming signal, and a decibel level Squeeenami Siren is played if said parent is toting something home in talons or beak. You might listen for that one later when the first food delivery is made from the parents flying food truck! It’s sure to be a doozy … or a scolding squeee if it is not a food present! Enjoy every minute … it really does go by way too quick!