What’s going on at our nests? Mr. North and DNF continue to enjoy a really mild spring so far. We’ve got about 18 days until hatch starts, so keep your fingers and talons crossed! The drama at GSB continues: after ousting interloper Nina, Nova copulated with Newman and than disappeared again. But, with diurnal raptor migration in full swing, Newman didn’t need to wait long for a new prospect. We expect things to calm down soon: since most female falcons are back on territory by March 15 or so, the falcon flood should slow to a tiny trickle.
Looking for eagles? Besides the North Nest, be sure to check out our Flyway cam! A lot of eagles (and ducks, and geese) are making a brief pit stop in Lake Onalaska right now. If you miss them – spring migration flies by quickly – we’ll share videos and photos!
Thanks to our camera operators and videomakers for finding and sharing such special moments and to you for watching, learning, and especially for caring! We hope you enjoy tonight’s Nestflix as much as we did.
Decorah Eagles North
March 10, 2021: Mr. North incubates stoically in the cold spring rain. While water puddles on his back and drains down his feathers, he keeps the eggs beneath him warm and dry!
March 10, 2021: DNF head study, feather study – https://youtu.be/Rwe-rUZBJ-U. A wonderful look at beautiful DNF’s head, face, eyes, beak, and feathers! I especially enjoyed the peek at adult eagle down at 4:43 (her down undercoat beats our finest jackets!), tightly lapping covert feathers, secondaries (the rounded symmetrical feathers), primaries (the sharply pointed asymmetrical feathers), tail feathers, and rump coverts. These feathers work together to keep her warm and dry, and smooth airflow over her body in flight. She is amazing!
March 9, 2021: Breakfish for DNF – https://youtu.be/iVf6TL1iKHI. Mr. North arrives with a trout, DNF puts the teakettle on, and he hands it over! While she gobbles it down, he settles over the eggs. At 22 and 19 days of age, they need an almost constant supply of heat, which Mr. North and DNF apply through their brood patches. After DNF is done eating, she takes the opportunity to stretch her wings!
What’s the optimum temperature for incubating bald eagle eggs? Research done by the Institute for Wildlife Studies found it to be around 99F. Since eagles have a body temperature of around 105 degrees, Mr. North and DNF have heat to spare. They might respond to egg temperature by shifting eggs, adding or removing nesting material, building a berm, standing up, or shimmying down tightly, depending on the situation. Although this spring has been fairly warm, it isn’t uncommon to see both eagles tucking insulation in to keep the eggs warm and cozy below them!
Great Spirit Bluff Falcons
March 10, 2021: Newman’s rain dance
Everyone is nervous about the fight we saw at Great Spirit Bluff yesterday. This kind of behavior is quite common for peregrine falcons and neither bird was seriously hurt, as far as we could tell. However, Nova didn’t stay long, which has me perplexed. Usually a female peregrine shows up a little after the male, accepts her mate’s courtship, and chases other female falcons away almost as soon as they appear. But Nova disappeared between the 6th and the 9th, came back to fight Nina over the territory, and vanished again after copulating with Newman. As of today, Newman was courting a two-year-old female. We’ll see what happens next.
March 10, 2021: Newman takes a rain bath – https://youtu.be/sSZeuVBhX_s. This is a beautiful video! Newman dances in the rain, letting water fall on his body and shaking it off when he gets too wet.
Mississippi Flyway Cam
March 10, 2021: A juvenile eagle on the Flyway. I was out surveying for falcons yesterday and counted an incredible 92 in the air and 93 on the rapidly melting ice on the southern stretch of Lake Pepin
March 10, 2021: Bathing bald eagle – https://youtu.be/9aVJfvPSPXo. The cold water doesn’t stop an adult bald eagle from taking a bath! Go to 1:12 to see him lay down in the water, dip his head, splash water up over his back, and generally enjoy a nice splish-splash! Bathing removes dirt, dust, and parasites, which helps keep feathers in tip top shape! Once the bath is done, the eagle hops up on to the snag and shakes some water off before flying away.
March 9, 2021: Mississippi River Flyway: Activities Part 1 – https://youtu.be/JQIhF_0OW9o. Where did all these eagles come from? As the river melts, eagles follow it north to their summer territories. Remember when we learned that American Robins were the first sign of spring? There were very few eagles around at the time, so teachers couldn’t have known that bald eagles are among the earliest returners: right up there with the Canada Goose (which would also have been a rarer sight in the early 1970’s) and the Mallard Duck. Nothing says spring like bald eagles and peregrine falcons…but watch now, because spring migration flies by quickly!