September 10, 2020: Eagles and more on the Mississippi Flyway!

Missing the Decorah and Decorah North eagles? We hope to have them back in early October, but in the meantime, we invite you to hop over to the Mississippi Flyway! Migration has begun and we are seeing all sorts of interesting birds. You can perch – there are plenty of snags! – or join our Flyway chat from 11-2 CT on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! Link here:

Mississippi Flyway
September 10, 2020: A juvenile Bald Eagle preens by the Mississippi River

September 10, 2020: A juvenile Bald Eagle preens by the Mississippi River

Adult Bald Eagle Interactions The title did not prepare me for the opening dunking sequence! After the adult is dunked by another adult, a juvenile flies over and food-begs, with no success. The camera switches over to the sandbar at 1:14, where we see several juvenile eagles. At 1:54, we see an adult fly back to the first eagle and perch beside it on the snag.The two vocalize together as birds fly, float, and forage in the background!

September 10, 2020: Beautiful juvie preening We see eagles of all ages at the opening of the video. To see the juvenile eagle preening, go to about 1:20. It preens quite thoroughly, getting in deep under its wings, rubbing the back and side of its head (1:56), straightening its long tail feathers (2:09), and just generally enjoying a little spa time. I really enjoyed the footage starting around 6:37 – the camera operator is in close and we get a spectacular look at the eaglet.

September 2, 2020: Northern Harrier “What is that?” everyone wondered. See the distinctive facial disk? that is a northern harrier! Is it an adult female or a juvenile? I pulled out ‘Hawks From Every Angle’ by David A. Sibley and Jerry Liguori. Even dark adult female harriers show a greyish cast to their remiges. We don’t see much of the remiges, but its color overall is a lovely dark chocolate brown, which makes me think it is a juvenile.

A few cool things about harriers. Like turkey vultures, harriers hold their wings in a ‘V’ or dihedral shape when soaring. They forage by flying low over long grass open habitat, including marshes, which makes the larger grassy islands of the Mississippi perfect for hunting. The stiff feathers of their facial discs help direct sound to their ears, making them very similar in form and function to an owl’s disc. You can learn more about an owl’s hearing here:

September 1, 2020: 8 am Pelicans, bald eagle, nice morning light The video opens with a look at pelicans. See how some of them have brownish napes? Those are juveniles! Geese float in the background in a scene very reminiscent of a day at the sea. We see an adult bald eagle at 8:26. At 10:35, we get a look at its face. It is hard to tell in the light, but this looks like an eagle that is in its fourth molt…so just a little bit over five years old. See the brown on the head and streaking behind the eyes? It continues to perch and preen with not a care in the world as the river rolls on behind it.

Odds and Ends

Weather? Meh. What’s the migration forecast?!

What is migration and how do birds do it?

Peregrine falcons finally return to nest in their most famous location (besides GSB, that is):

Bellows Beach has first-time Hawaiian green sea turtle hatchlings: This was sent by a fan in Hawaii. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s not only great, it points out that we need to give our wild friends the space and resources they need to establish and maintain healthy populations. A small change in our behavior can provide real benefits to them!