Where are our eaglets? All three are sticking fairly tight to their current areas, which are about 50 miles away from one another. D27, in Spillville, is the farthest north while D35, near Iowa City, is the farthest south.
D27 turns four in early April of this year. She is in the Spillville area on the western part of her winter range, not too far from Decorah. Brett pointed out that she tends to explore agricultural fields the day and roosts along the Turkey River at night. This area, like so much of the Driftless, is an eagle paradise. Steep wooded river valleys incise upland farming area, creating a patchwork of areas for eagles to roost, forage, eat, and gather. Spillville is also a great place for classical music nerds: Composer Antonin Dvorak and his family spent a summer there after he completed his ‘New World Symphony’, which inspired his New World Quartet: http://www.antonin-dvorak.cz/en/spillville.
D35 turns a year old in early April. Followers that live near Iowa City won’t be surprised to learn that D35 is hanging around Iowa City and the Iowa River. You’ve told us about the eagles you are seeing there, especially since winter started getting serious in late December. I’m not surprised it is a popular gathering place: the habitat looks excellent and it shortcuts Iowa’s ‘nose’, providing an inland shortcut to the southern reaches of the Upper Mississippi River. This area is outside the Driftless, which means less habitat and higher concentrations of wildlife.
D36 is spending time between D35 and D27, along the Maquoketa River, near Dundee, Iowa, just south of Strawberry Point: also a popular spot for a younger D27, D24, and D1.
Since we’re about halfway through January, I got curious about what our eagles tend to do in February. The interactive maps show most of the southern eagles starting to drift north as the days lengthen, while eagles up near Decorah tended to stay in the area, assuming that the area has a diameter of about 25 miles. Their travels really take off in March, as longer, warmer days translate to open water and they begin to feel a tug north.
A thousand thanks to Brett Mandernack and the Eagle Valley crew for their expertise, maps, and data! To view the travels of all the eagles we’ve tracked, please visit our interactive maps at https://www.raptorresource.org/learning-tools/eagle-map/.