Put your feet up and get ready for tonight’s midnight movie madness! While the Decorah North eagles incubated their two eggs in peaceful splendor (countdown: 24 days), Decorah and Great Spirit Bluff kept us all on the Tilt-o-Whirl! Will a new eagle couple take over N2B? Is Mom warning them away? Who was that banded female falcon at Great Spirit Bluff? Grab your drinks and snacks and get ready for nestflix, information, and a little #musing as we review a long and interesting day!
Decorah Eagles North
March 3, 2021: DNF rolls her eggs
March 3, 2021: Close look at the beautiful eagle feathers and head close-ups of Dad – https://youtu.be/QNQ_gpes0_c. The camera operators give us a beautiful anatomy lesson, with looks at Mr. North’s sharply pointed primary feathers, rounded secondary feathers, secondary wing coverts (wing ‘cloak’ feathers), tightly lapping body coverts, beautiful mantle, and head. We can see every detail including rimal feathers, rictal bristles, commissure (aka beak lips!), fleshy cere, and nostrils/nares. This is a beautiful video!
See the uneven rachis, or vane, of Mr. North’s primary feathers? The more forward-facing a feather is in flight, the more vane asymmetry it has. If the rachis were in the center, wind (which is felt disproportionally on the feather’s leading edge) would twist the feather up and make flying more difficult. Note that his secondaries are more symmetrical. They smooth the airflow and help strengthen and stabilize Mr. North’s wings.
March 3, 2021: Nice Hiss and Wing Slap DNF – https://youtu.be/SNvA6FOYr-M. Eeeekkk – there’s a mouse in this house! You can’t really see it, but if you follow DNF’s eyes and look very, very closely at around 30 seconds, you’ll see the grass rustle as a mouse moves underneath it (I had to watch the video at full size to catch it). Mrs. North responds with a protective wing slap!
March 2, 2021: Mr. leaves, DNF foots the eggs – https://youtu.be/RtSHslSxNd0. Birds need to roll their eggs. Rolling an egg helps its inner membranes to form properly and keeps the growing embryo from sticking to the shell. Mr. North and DNF usually roll their eggs with their beaks, tucking the curved end gently underneath an egg and scooting it forward. But in this video, DNF carefully steps into the nest at about 36 seconds. She uses her long, strong wings to balance while she stands on one foot and carefully rolls her eggs with the other. Job done, she shimmies over them to make sure they are tucked up against her brood patch and adds a little more insulation to the egg cup.
March 4, 2021: Two new eagles at N2B. Will they stay?
March 4, 2021: Mom makes a quick stop by N2B – https://youtu.be/1LcYL3yyuis. Thanks for joining us on the Confusion Couch, Mom! Will a new pair of eagles take over? What do Mom and DM2 think? Do they know about the interlopers? What we know, what we don’t know, and musings: https://www.raptorresource.org/2021/03/04/your-questions-answered-new-eagles-appear-on-n2b/.
March 4, 2021: March 4, 2021: Two eagles at N2B – https://youtu.be/uVzjbFm-0iE. Two eagles showed up at N2B this morning! Based on coloration, the female was probably four and the male was a full adult. They made themselves quite at home on the nest and she made it clear who was boss (take a look at 1:37 for some very enjoyable beaky nibbles, and check out her full crop!).
March 4, 2021: Fish breakfast at Decorah – https://youtu.be/vEAY3rpVZjM. The male of today’s pair enjoys breakfish on the Skywalk! With no shortage of ‘location location location‘, it’s not surprising that N2B is a hot item on today’s eagle housing market!
More seriously, a lot of you are wondering whether these eagles will stay, and whether the female is old enough to lay eggs. You can read a little more about that here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2021/03/04/your-questions-answered-new-eagles-appear-on-n2b/.
Great Spirit Bluff
March 4, 2021: Newman and the banded visitor at GSB
March 4, 2021: Morning meeting for Newman and Nova! https://youtu.be/4ssUa0v6CwI. Newman sweet talks Nova, coaxing her from the lip of the nest box. He bows and chups, inviting her in. She joins him at 17 seconds and the two begin bowing at 31 seconds. He flies out and she watches, hoping over to the perch at 3:09 to watch, preen, and rouse.
March 4, 2021: Newman courting the Banded Falcon – https://youtu.be/LlNp-_g0Nu4. It’s that time of the year! Newman is courting Nova – and other female falcons who come into his territory! A banded female falcon shows up and he briefly entices her into the nestbox.
Reading Falcon Bands
Who is this? A quick clinic: auxiliary striped leg bands are read top to bottom. Here, the black/top number is 53. The color/bottom number is unreadable, but not a curved figure like P or B. We know this is an adult female (she has no retained brown juvenile feathers, which puts her at older than two), which means she hatched prior to 2019, and we know that her bands are black/blue.
When I look for a black/blue banded adult female with a top number of 53, my possibilities are 53/H, 53/M, 53/N, and 53/X. This doesn’t look at all like an H or an X, which means she is 53/M or 53/N. I think this looks a little more like an M than an N, so that is what we are going with. In that case, this is KJ, a five-year old female falcon from the Racine County Courthouse in Racine, Wisconsin! Check it out yourself at the Midwest Peregrine Society’s website: https://midwestperegrine.umn.edu/?vw=search.
Thanks to our camera operators and video makers for finding and sharing special moments, to our moderators for interpreting them and answering questions, and to you for watching, learning, and caring. Rock on, eagle and falcon nation!