Whatta week! It is only Tuesday, but we have a full round-up from Decorah, Great Spirit Bluff, and the North Nest. In Decorah, Mom and DM2 have watchers crossing their talons as they make visit after visit to M2, nest N2B, old nest location N1, and the much-loved Y-Branch. We hope that Mom’s recent campouts signal a move back to the hatchery. At Great Spirit Bluff, Chance shows off her lovely plumage, her newly acquired flight skills, and her playful side. Don’t miss the lovely little Northern Saw-Whet owl that briefly perched near the box! At Decorah North, DN14 has a close call with fishing line. We can’t get up into the nest right now, but we will be removing it in September.
As always, thanks to our incredible camera operators, video makers, and to all of you for watching, sharing, learning, and caring!
July 26, Mom on the Y-Branch
What’s going on with Mom and DM2? They started showing up fairly regularly about a week or two after the eaglets fledged and Mom has slept over three times in the last seven days. Our (condensed) camera operator log for the past week looks something like this:
- July 20: Mom on M2
- July 21: Mom on M2 and overnighted on N2B
- July 22: Mom and DM2 on M2. Mom on N2B, overnighted on N2B
- July 23: DM2 on M2 and the Y, Mom on M2 and N2B with a fish
- July 24: DM2 on M2, N1, and the Y, Mom on M2 and overnighted in Y
- July 25: DM2 and Mom on M2
- July 26: DM2 on M2, Mom on M2 and Y
- July 27: Mom on M2
So click your talons together, say ‘There’s no place like home’, and enjoy seeing Mom and DM2 again!
Great Spirit Bluff Falcons
July 26, 2021: Chance at Great Spirit Bluff
A lot of you are wondering when Chance will disperse. Dispersal can begin any time between mid-August and early October: like bald eagles, peregrine falcons do things in their own time. Based on what I’m hearing from our partners, most fledgling falcons are still local as of this post. Jaxtom reported that the Red Bird Bluff falcons fledged and are chasing Mom Lefty around, people are seeing the Courthouse fledglings around downtown Dubuque, the Greysolon Plaza fledglings are thrilling their aunties and uncles in Duluth, and the La Crosse fledglings are practicing their hunting skills on the city’s ample pigeon population.
What causes juvenile falcons and eagles to disperse? The days are getting shorter, which drives a whole suite of pre-migratory behaviors in birds. We’re already seeing birds gathering on the Flyway and in our neighborhood: huge flocks that fly, chatter, gorge on food to build fat reserves, and generally act restless: also known by the marvelous word zugunruhe. Dispersal is driven by a combination of hormones, food availability, and other birds. Based on what we’ve seen in past years, I’m guessing that dispersal will happen in mid-to-late August. Start looking for Chance down on the Flyway and possibly over in La Crosse.
July 26, 2021: Chance is tracking something – https://youtu.be/mpda05xiOl0. This is probably my favorite Chance video so far! We get to see a lot of her beautiful brown and buff juvenile plumage and striking face as she demonstrates just how flexible her neck is! Like eagles, peregrine falcons can’t roll their eyes, so she moves her head around to keep whatever she is looking at in view. Check 1:23 for a great example!
July 26, 2021: Flight school – https://youtu.be/SjHMUKWx1VA. How is flight school going? Skip to 2:35 to see Chance take off and swoop back to the cliff or to 3:00 for a game of Chase the parent while food-begging at top volume. In just eight days, Chance has gone from a clumsy new flier to a fledgling aerial acrobat as she blows past lesson after lesson on flying, landing, chasing, and riding the wind.
July 25, 2021: Chance playing and pooos – https://youtu.be/oKL4fkjfJjo. This video is a lot of fun! We talk a lot about expert falcon flying, but they are also great pouncers and drytoolers when it comes to rock! Chance pounces (possibly after insects, a common fledgling food), plays with a leaf, and shows us her cryptic plumage as she explores the ledge. What is drytooling? Check this video out: https://youtu.be/tYSEzcyz2os
July 23, 2021: A little owl on the nest box branch – https://youtu.be/CMCm3yZbkdM. I can almost hear the groans – an owl? But this little owl is a Northern Saw-Whet and no threat to the falcons whatsoever (although it does wake Chance up). We get a great look at it starting at about 18 seconds.
We don’t have GHO at Great Spirit Bluff this year. Is that why this little owl showed up? Like eagles, owls are often their own worst enemy. It’s possible that the disappearance of GHO opened up a niche for this smaller species. I hope we see it again!
July 26, 2021: DN13 and DN14
July 26, 2021: DNF delivers fish with fishing line and DN14 claims it – https://youtu.be/wlfr2P6Ig9g. DN14 ended up spitting the line out, which is wonderful. We know that fishing line isn’t always recoverable. But please collect and dispose of line safely when you can. It can make a life or death difference to eagles, waterfowl, turtles, and other animals.