Story and Photos by Robin Brumm
It had been a few weeks, so I was due for a trip to Decorah. A friend was going to meet me there and we both wanted to see if we could find the juvies and see them flying around.
One of the juvies flying overhead
I got up early, packed up the car and headed to Decorah. I got there around 7:00am. Shortly after I got there, Mom flew to a tree at the base of the bluff. She stayed for quite a while and then flew over the retention pond, caught a fish, and went to N2B. She perched on the skywalk for a bit. It was good to see her there from the ground – it felt a little bit like old times when they were nesting in N2B. Of course, my camera battery was really low so I told Mom not to leave because I needed to get a battery from my car, lol! I walked back toward the hatchery and as I got to the bridge, Mom flew over my head and landed on the Maple2. She then flew to a tree at the base of the bluff.
Juvies playing and sparring in the sky
We left to go get some lunch around 1:00 and, as we were driving, we saw two juvies flying to the east of the N3 nest, catching some updrafts from the bluff. After lunch, we walked down the trail to N3 and saw two juvies flying high above the area. They would fly toward each other, grab talons, fly apart, and come back together. It is so exciting when they are playing in the sky and fine-tuning their skills! They were up very high and it was hard to see them without binoculars. I was able to get a few pictures, but they are not as clear as I would like because the juvies were so far away. Eventually, they flew back to the N3 area. One juvie landed on a branch on the side of the nest and the other one landed on the perch tree. We were watching them when we saw the third juvie fly low over the area. We could hear it coming because it was squeeing!! We figured there had to be a parent close if the juvies were squeeing, so we looked at the dead tree and it looked like DM2 was perched there. The parent flew down toward the stream and then flew up to the nest with a juvie hot on its tail. It looked like DM2 brought something to the nest, but I don’t think it was food. When we left for the evening, there was a juvie in the nest and a parent on the dead tree.
Mom on the maple
Mom was on the Maple2 when we got to the hatchery. She flew off and tried to catch a fish in the hatchery pond, but she missed and landed on the ground. She flew from one side of the pond to the other side trying to catch something. After five or six tries, including stepping into the pond, she finally caught one and flew toward the N1 area. We walked over in that direction but couldn’t find her.
Mom at the hatchery
We decided to go to N3 to see if she had flown there. We parked our car and, as we were getting our stuff out of the car, we saw two juvies flying very low over the parking lot. They circled around above us and kept soaring overhead, flying higher and higher. When they were small specks in the sky, the third juvie flew over, again very low. We both jumped, because we didn’t see it until it was right above us! It seemed so close that we could have reached up and touched it, but I’m sure it was higher than that. It flew over, followed the river, and went behind some trees.
One of the juvies on the perch tree
We walked down the trail to the N3 area and saw a parent on the dead tree. We think it was DM2. We could hear squees but couldn’t see a juvie. The parent flew down and then flew to the perch tree. We heard squees getting louder and a juvie flew into the perch tree near the parent. I believe the parent had a fish because the juvie looked like it was eating. The parent flew to the dead tree and, after the juvie finished eating, it flew to the nest.
DM2 and fledgling
By this time, it was getting late and we both needed to head for home. I’m still hoping that the juvies make an appearance at the hatchery…maybe next time! Of course, until next time, I’d settle for a camera glimpse of any of them exploring the Maple2, the Y Branch at N1, or even a pit stop at N2B or the Skywalk. That isn’t asking for too much, is it?
RRP appreciates Robin’s generosity in sharing her photos and reminds you they are copyrighted and may not be downloaded without her express written consent.