Spring is coming and birds are busy at (almost) all of our nests. At Decorah North, DNF wing-whacks a mouse and enjoys lunch, while Mr. North sounds the alarm over an intruder. We have stunning close-ups of both eagles, but we can’t quite get a peek at their egg! Love is in the air at GSB as an unknown female falcon courts Newman and Newman courts mate Nova. He didn’t quite sweet-talk her into their nest box, but it wasn’t for lack of trying! On the Flyway, a Rough-legged Hawk hunts cattails and reeds, showing off its incredible flying skills. Put up your feet and grab your favorite snacks…it’s time for Nestflix!
Decorah Eagles North
February 27, 2021: A stunning look at Mr. North!
March 1, 2021: That was a yummy lunch! https://youtu.be/C8QUSfvundw. Judging from the stains on her beak, DNF enjoyed a very fresh lunch today! We get 20 minutes of great close-ups, including her tongue and mouth (1:03, as she pants to cool down), a front-facing view of her face at 2:08, an extreme close-up of her eyes at 5:31, a little egg cup readjustment in the 15th and 16th minute (she tucks grass in at rear left, possibly in response to the wind), and a lovely feather study beginning at 19:09.
March 1, 2021: Intruder alert – https://youtu.be/a7beubd6y9w. The video opens with Mr. North on the nest. He becomes alert at about seven seconds: just as we hear the neighborhood crow watch sounding a distant alarm. He begins vocalizing, sounding a warning and alerting DNF. At 1:39, something flies over the nest. We just barely see its wingtips as its flaps past. We see another bird at 2:55 and hear DNF’s vocals off in the distance.
February 27, 2021: DNF gets spooked by a mouse – https://youtu.be/aqM5mhrCTrM. Poor DNF is dozing in the nest when a mouse startles her! She givens a wing-whap flap and the mouse retreats. Listen very closely at around six seconds and you will hear an owl hooting off in the distance.
February 27, 2021: Stunning close-ups of handsome Dad – https://youtu.be/vKjLoRrZTnk. Incredible close-ups of Mr. North’s beak, eye, and face. We can see every detail including the edges of his beak, the rimal feathers that line his eyes, and his rictal bristles. I especially loved the close-up look at his nictitating eyelid at 3:16 (note that his lower outer eyelid is also partially closed).
Has anyone ever called you eagle-eyed? Relative to humans, bald eagles have larger, sharper eyes that see further, collect more details, and produce stereoscopic vision to greatly improve depth perception. You can learn more about them here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2017/11/19/eagle-eyes/
Great Spirit Bluff
February 26, 2021: Newman expels a pellet!
March 1, 2021: Newman and Nova – https://youtu.be/2XA1OfCDU9I. Newman and Nova are both unbanded, but their unique features – two pale stripes on the back of his head and her mallar stripes – help us to identify them from year to year. Newman is inside the nest box, soliciting mate Nova to join him. He chups and bows, hoping to entice her into their home. But she seems content to perch and preen in the bright sunlight!
February 27, 2021: Banded falcon – https://youtu.be/VdFigB0hP7Q. A banded adult female falcon sits on top of the nest box and chups, perhaps soliciting Newman. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite able to see her band before she flies away!
February 26, 2021: Newman expels a pellet – https://youtu.be/DSPAP8USblo. Like other raptors, falcons compress indigestible material into a pellet, which they expel through their mouths. Although I enjoyed the pellet spitting, my favorite moment happened from 3:44 to 3:49 as Newman erects and lowers his head feathers, seeming to change size and shape! Look for this several times though out the video as he perches alertly and takes in the world around him. He ejects the pellet starting at 5:07.
February 28, 2020: A Rough-legged Hawk hunts the Flyway!
The river is starting to melt and Cornell has resumed their migration forecasts. We’ll probably start to see more migrants on the Flyway this week and we’ll be including Cornell’s migration report on our update. Look sharp – spring migration is very quick!
February 28, 2021: Beautiful Hawk hunting – https://youtu.be/xA1Pjule4GQ. A stunning rough-legged hawk hovers over the Flyway, using its powerful wings and tail to remain in one place as it hunts.
This tundra bird spends summers in northern Canada and much of Alaska, and winters in the lower 48 states. As the days lengthen and the weather warms, they are making their way north to their breeding grounds. While I love American Robins, Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks, and Rough-legged Hawks are my signs of spring. You can read more about Rough-legged hawks here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2020/10/23/its-a-bird-its-a-plane-no-its-a-buteo/
Be sure to keep an eye on the Flyway. Birds are headed north!