Happy Fri-yay, everyone! Grab your snacks and drinks and get ready for the weekend with our Friday night raptor mega-roll. At Decorah North, DNF and Mr. North respond to an influx of visitors and work on this year’s penthouse addition, while white-footed mice throw a rocking harvest party in the after-dark nest! In Decorah, Mom keeps us crossing our talons with repeated sightings in and around the hatchery. C’mon Mom and DM2 – N2B and the new starter nest at N1 are both waiting for you! We’re swooning over swans and watching eagles chase a beaver on the Mississippi Flyway, while an unbanded female falcon and banded male falcon 06/D Ardy are captivating us at Great Spirit Bluff.
Thank you so much to our incredible camera operators and video makers for finding and capturing such special moments – and to all of you for watching, sharing, learning, and caring. We make the world a better place together!
Decorah North Eagles
November 18, 2021: Mr. North (left) and DNF (right)
November 18, 2021: DNF and the visitors – https://youtu.be/pYoKsvEJMe4. The Norths had a whole lot of visitors fly through on the 17th and 18th. It can be hard to determine how many eagles are in an area – individuals come and go, and sometimes circle back – but looking at cam operator notes, I think we probably saw at least ten eagles besides Mr. North and DNF. The winds were out of the north and the weather was perfect for migrating!
November 18, 2021: The mice had too much coffee! https://youtu.be/g_9KHL5X8JM. It’s a mouse house party! The merry mice are running, jumping, hopping, and scurrying all around the North nest. What’s going on? White-footed mice nest in family units during the winter. They need to build fat and store nuts and seeds before the cold and snow start to bite. The North nest is ideal for winter housing – as far as the mice are concerned, it is a giant brushpile! – and stocked with almost everything a wild mouse might want to eat now or store for later. Winter is coming and it’s time for a harvest party!
If you like mice, take a look at this video as well – we get some great close-ups! https://youtu.be/AsF6nSJ9AQw.
November 17, 2021: November 17, 2021: It’s a sticky business! https://youtu.be/xNVquLVQDhk. DNF and Mr. North are hard at work on their nest. Sometimes that involves fairly straightforward stick placement. But sometimes we get tug-o-war, stick collisions, and confusing stick placements!
November 17 was a busy day! DNF and Mr. North brought in over 10 sticks. While they worked on their nest, we spotted another adult bald eagle with a stick of its own. Was it interloping or working on a nest not too far away? We’re not sure, but our camera operators noted it a couple of times. Neither of the Norths seemed especially upset by it and it didn’t come near the North nest. You can see it in this video at 5:07: https://youtu.be/Rv22W_FwANE. Don’t miss DNF’s beautiful fly-in and Mr. North sticking the landing on this nestoration video: https://youtu.be/x1qE87qnoLg.
November 18, 2021: Mom at N1. There is a starter nest just waiting for upgrades, Mom!
Mom was busy around N2B this morning! We saw her successfully fishing in the pond, eating a fish on the ground, and hanging out near N1 (https://youtu.be/bdIVP7COWy4), going for seconds, with no luck (https://youtu.be/lsc5NZNyfiQ), and going for thirds, with luck! https://youtu.be/C1X_eJjeLM0. C’mon, Mom and DM2 – we have two prime spots waiting for you in live trees, and the hatchery pond is rebuilt and stocked with fish. The Park Avenue of Eagledom awaits!
November 18, 2021: Eagles on the Flyway. It is a great time to watch them – we are seeing so many eagles and swans right now!
November 18, 2021: Bald eagles going after beaver – https://youtu.be/8xw6AxbtSi8. The eagles don’t seem especially invested in catching it, but this beaver isn’t taking any chances! Check 27 seconds in – is the adult bald eagle interested in catching the beaver, or considering a ride?
Beavers are ecosystem engineers! I’m a beaver believer: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2018-4-july-august/feature/beavers-are-ultimate-ecosystem-engineers because of this book ‘Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter‘. It is a great present for anyone who loves beavers and/or ecosystems!
November 16, 2021: Swans! https://youtu.be/VFWZUIfczqY. So many swans! They forage and float serenely among ducks and Canada geese, tanking up for the next leg of their journey south. We would not have seen them in anywhere near these numbers 40 years ago.
We think that up to 25% of all eastern tundra swans migrate along the Upper Mississippi River. Prior to the 1970s, small numbers of tundra swans consistently stopped along the Mississippi River on their way to their wintering grounds in the Chesapeake Bay, but now their numbers have swelled to over 30,000 individuals in late November alone. You can read more about them here: https://www.umesc.usgs.gov/documents/fact_sheets/swans.pdf.
Great Spirit Bluff Falcons
November 18, 2021: Hello, beautiful! An unbanded female falcon at GSB.
November 19, 2021: Third visit of peregrine falcon 06/D – https://youtu.be/aSUZIZwXaqo. This falcon is Ardy 06/D, a 2015 hatch from Ardent Milling in Lake City, WI banded by Dave Kester. Ardy is about 60 miles southeast of his natal nest as the falcon flies. I’ll be curious to see whether he sticks around here – and whether we see him over in La Crosse at some point.
We encourage everyone to report bands if they see them. Every time you report, even with a dead bird, the bander learns something more about the species they are studying. To report bands, go to https://www.reportband.gov. If it’s one of our falcons, I will eventually get a notice and I’ll email you a thanks – and maybe mail you a sticker, if you give me your address!
November 18, 2021: Hello beautiful! https://youtu.be/v7y7ANjxA6Y. A stunningly beautiful look at an unbanded adult falcon in the snow. This video is longer, but go to 16:40 for a super close-up. Amazing! https://youtu.be/2B3X-I4AANQ.