We have your Nestflix mega-roll, with videos from Decorah North, Decorah, and the Flyway! At Decorah North, DNF dines on cowghetti, flies past some deer, and gathers grass to replenish the nursery. It won’t be long until eaglets at here! In Decorah, Mom eats a light fish dinner, letting prospective inhabitants know that this eagle branch and breakfast isn’t for rent! And pelicans – a marvelous, magnificent sign of spring – return to the Flyway today, resplendent in their beautiful black and white plumage and breeding bumps. We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did: a thousand thanks to our camera operators and video makers for finding and sharing such special moments, and to all of you for watching, learning, and especially for caring!
Decorah Eagles North
March 21, 2021: DNF appears to share a story at Decorah North! The unusually warm weather has both eagles panting. It’s hard to believe they were coping with subzero temperatures a month ago.
March 21, 2021: First cowghetti of the season! https://youtu.be/Ui-DMkYHCeA. What is that? It’s cowghetti, or cow placenta! When cows give birth in the field, they tend to bellow. We recognize it as a sign of impending birth, while Mr. North and DNF both hear the dinner bell ringing!
Why do we call it cowghetti? When the North eagles first brought placenta into the nest, we had a bit of a struggle figuring the particular UFO out! Watchers pointed out that it appeared stringy, like spaghetti, and the name stuck!
March 20, 2021: Close ups and night fall – https://youtu.be/ZmnoRuBbhJM. This video features really lovely close-ups of DNF and twilight vocals from the valley of the Norths.
If you’ve been watching us for a while, you know that eagles pant to cool down. It might not seem warm to us, but the trees haven’t leafed out yet, which means that Mr. North and DNF are incubating in full sunlight. Their beautiful feathery jackets are excellent protection against the cold, but aren’t so good at radiating heat! Eagles have three basic strategies to handle heat in the nest: they pant, sprawl (think of eaglets sprawled out around the nest), and seek shade. With eggs underneath her, DNF’s only choice is to pant.
March 19, 2021: Deer and DNF flew by – https://youtu.be/w3-CM7xN084. Short and sweet! A herd of deer – a common North nest neighbor – trot across the field. DNF flies past at about 21 seconds. We see her collecting grass in the field at around 42 seconds and she brings it into the nest at the end of the video.
White-tailed deer rut and become pregnant in the fall, when sex hormones peak. As hormones ebb and snow covers food supplies, they gather into large herds for the winter. Even mature, normally solitary bucks spend time in close proximity to other deer. This helps them find food (they eat primarily woody browse during the winter months), makes it less likely that any individual deer will succumb to predators, and helps deer stay warm. Over the next month or so, we’ll see the large herds break up as does begin to have their young. Deer with new fawns are very secretive, hiding their babies in thick undergrowth while they browse alone. We might see some fawns by late May or early June.
March 22, 2021: Mom enjoys a light dinner and signals to everyone in eyesight that she still rules this roost! The hatchery cabin? Not for sale!
March 20, 2021: Mom eating fish on N2B – https://youtu.be/Acvm7T49wyY. Mom doesn’t appear to be ready to rent her Air Breakfast and Branch yet, judging from the amount of time she and DM2 spend ‘reminding’ other eagles that the property owners are still around! On March 20, she showed up to eat a light dinner before heading back to her eggs.
A number of eagles have showed interest in N2B, but Mom and DM2 don’t appear ready to allow another pair of eagles at the hatchery. We are curious to see how the presence of other eagles influences their nesting decisions next fall, and whether another eagle couple might try to move in once the two are busy with eaglets this spring.
March 22, 2021; Pelicans return to the Mississippi Flyway!
March 22, 2021: The pelicans are back! https://youtu.be/nuQ8DEpchRs. This is so cool! A squadron of pelicans preens on a sandbar. See the bump on their bills? That is a breeding bump! Both sexes develop the bump, which falls off after the birds have mated and laid eggs. It makes them more attractive to prospective mates and may signal fertility, since non-breeding birds don’t have it.
March 19, 2021: Pretty Killdeer on the Mississippi River Flyway – https://youtu.be/t3X0AD6cgkM. Exactly as the video says: a pretty little killdeer forages for invertebrates on the mudflats of Lake Onalaska. To learn more about Killdeer, follow this link: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/lifehistory.