Grab something warn and put your feet up – it’s time for Nestflix! At Decorah North, DNF and Mr. North keep their lone egg warm and cope with unwelcome intruders. In Decorah, Mom and DM2 keep us all on the confusion couch. Will they nest at N2B or not? We won’t know until they begin laying eggs…but either way, we shouldn’t have long to wait! Thank you so much to our camera operators, our video makers, and to all of you who watch, share, learn, and especially care!
Decorah North Eagles
February 17, 2021: Mr. North responds to a threat near the nest
February 17, 2021: Mr. North insists to take over incubation and tracks something – https://youtu.be/zF1ATjdE3fM. I really enjoyed this video! Mr. North comes into the nest to take his shift. He gently but persistently wiggles under a protesting DNF, moving her off the egg as he settles over it. We get a stunning close-up at 1:13. Note Mr. North’s raised hackles and throat feathers, intent stare, and the neighborhood crow alarm. Something he didn’t like flew by the nest.
The word ‘hackles’ here refers to the feathers on the back of a bald eagle’s head. As Mr. North turns his head, we can see him raise his hackles in response to a threat that we can’t see. But his raised throat feathers make me think of a raven’s throat hackles: the well-developed ruff of feathers on the front of a raven’s throat. I don’t recall ever seeing an eagle’s throat feathers bristling this way. Whatever it was, he wasn’t happy about it!
February 17,2021: DNF brings nesting material and Mr. North brings prey – https://youtu.be/QFz267ewzmo. This video opens with a nice look at the egg as DNF comes in with nesting material and Mr. North flies out. Check out 24 seconds for a really nice close-up! She settles into the nest and pulls the covers up, tucking the soft grass in around her egg to keep it safe and warm. After a cut, Mr. North flies in with some prey at 2:24. DNF begins wheedling and Mr. North gives up his prey. Instead of eating it, she begins vocalizing an alarm and Mr. North flies back into the nest to stand guard. Whatever-it-was leaves and DNF mantles over the prey as though Mr. North hadn’t just left it for her!
February 17, 2021: Intruder alert – https://youtu.be/iYWDGjutUHI. DNF is incubating when something catches her eye. She sounds an alarm at 12 seconds and Mr. North responds with vocals of his own. He vocalizes in the distance as she alternately flattens herself and sits up tall, erecting her hackles to make herself look bigger. At 2:37, we hear a noise like the flapping of wings, but Mr. North is nowhere near the best, based on his vocalizations. We hear it a few more times along with more vocals from Mr. North and some serious stink-eye from DNF. Mr. North presumably escorts the unknown intruder out at around 4:30. DNF gets up, rolls her egg, does a little fine-tuning, and shimmies back down again!
Why so many intruders near the North nest? Decorah is in the middle of a record-breaking polar plunge and the North nest is located along a flyway! The rapidly closing water is driving eagles and presumably other birds south, and some of them might be hungry enough to look for a meal at the North nest.
February 17, 2021: Mom mantles a rabbit at N2B
February 17, 2021: Hasenpfeffer for lunch – https://youtu.be/tpZdJxKFkGA. I posted this earlier today but thought I would share it again for anyone who missed it. DM2 brings a frozen rabbit into nest N2B, with Mom hot on his tailfeathers! She lands, mantles, screes, and moves in, pushing DM2 off his prize. He gives it up and stands sentinel while Mom enjoys some hasenpfeffer for lunch.
We don’t show it here, but DM2 caught the rabbit earlier and ate quite a bit of it himself before bringing the leftovers to N2B. Eagles establish a pecking order in the nest, learning when (and how) to dominate and when to stand down and let someone else eat. DM2 had already enjoyed a little lunch and was willing to surrender the rest of the meal to his always-hungry mate – a wise decision on his part!