It’s your Monday night raptor megaroll! It seems like everybody is talking about Mom and DM2’s recent appearances at N2B. Cam operator Rewrap visited N3 and the hatchery over the weekend, and reported them in both places. While N3 still seems like a more likely 2022 nest choice based on activity level, we are watching the latest developments with a great deal of interest. C’mon, Mom and DM2 – N2B and the hatchery are ever so much better than your new location! At Decorah North, DNF and Mr. North stay busy with nestorations (the 2022 penthouse project is looking good!), visitors, and copulation. While we admire an eagle and a crow on the Flyway, a subadult eagle appears to admire itself in the water!
As always, thanks to our camera operators for finding such special moments, our videomakers for preserving them, and to all of you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did!
November 21, 2021: Mom and DM2 at N2B
November 22, 2021: DM2 grabs another stick & delivers it to N2B – https://youtu.be/ko2F7fUO7xc. Go to 1:50 and put the video in slow mode to see how DM2 breaks limbs off in mid-air. After snatching his prize, he flies it into N2B and carefully places it, moving it around to get it just right before flying off.
November 21, 2021: Mom’s breakfast – https://youtu.be/uCQen5L5J8c. It looks like Mom was in the mood for a classic breakfish at N2B! She brought a trout into the nest, ate it, feaked her beak, and vocalized. DM2 joined her, standing sentinel on the Skywalk while Mom moved a few sticks around. She joined him up on the Skywalk not long afterwards.
November 21, 2021: DM2 brings a stick to N2B – https://youtu.be/gARHJYRj9kw. Are Mom and DM2 reconsidering N2B? It’s hard to say – they’ve been showing up on and around N2B, but they are still active on N3. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring, but it has certainly been fun to see them again!
On November 20th, camera operator ReWrap checked out N2B for us. He reported: “I arrived in view of N3 at 7:40. Mom was in the nest and DM2 perched just above on the right. Mom flew down a couple times and back to the nest but I could not see if she brought anything to the nest. Mom flew out toward the West just after 8:00 and was reported landing on M2 around 8:05. At 8:18 DM2 flew off to the East and back to the nest a minute later. At 8:22 he flew off to a tree along the river about 100 yards to the West. Around 8:40 he flew off toward the West and I didn’t see him again.”
Decorah North Eagles
November 18, 2021: DNF helps Mr. North with stick placement.
November 22, 2021: Squirrel looking for a snack – https://youtu.be/kbt3V4-EjVU. Better watch out, squirrel! When the eagles are away, the squirrels do play!
November 21, 2021: Copulation #3 on cam – https://youtu.be/pSogfYWRqkI. It’s interesting to me that the North eagles copulate this time of the year. We know that a lot of migratory birds shrink their gonads once they are done with their reproductive cycle. Sex hormones stop flowing and don’t start again until some time after the winter solstice, when gonadal growth is triggered by increasing daylight length, especially in birds that winter north of the equator. But mated territorial eagles have been observed copulating ten months out of the year and we see reproductive activity at the North nest while the days are getting shorter! Do non-migratory eagles have intact gonads year round? Are there other circannual clocks that could come into play? Sex hormones and increasing daylight length still remain a key driver of reproductive activity in the eagles we watch, but I have to think they aren’t the only factor.
November 21, 2021: DNF works on wonky stick placement – https://youtu.be/MujjHld6Mew. Wonky sticks tie the nest together, but they aren’t always very easy to place. Fortunately, DNF is a pro! She deftly weaves her latest stick into place. The North 2022 penthouse project is looking good!
November 19, 2021: Visitors – https://youtu.be/d0XOr6f3Hhs. Two adults, one juvenile, and one subadult pay a visit to the Valley of the Norths!
November 20, 2021: A bald eagle and a crow share the Flyway!
November 20, 2021: Subadult with reflection – https://youtu.be/sjOuGPC0JuQ. #FlywayDreaming
November 20, 2021: Young eagle and a crow – https://youtu.be/4luS1ckY2c4. A crow has something to say to the young eagle next to it! Listen for sandhill cranes, mallard ducks, geese, and a few birds that I can’t identify. The two birds sit peacefully near one another, occasionally glancing away when something else catches their attention.
Crow or raven? We wouldn’t be especially likely to see a raven here, but I thought I would go over a few ID points. As we hear, this crow is cawing, not croaking. Ravens sound like crows with a serious cold, so the sound alone rules ‘raven’ out. See the bird’s smooth throat? Ravens have elongated throat feathers called hackles, while crows have smooth throat feathers. This bird’s smooth throat says ‘crow’. While we can’t really see its tail, crows have a rounded, fan-shaped tail while ravens have an angular, wedge-shaped tail – a very helpful ID tip for birds in flight! Ravens are also a lot larger, with much bigger beaks, although size isn’t always helpful when there isn’t anything to compare them to. But I think of ravens as big enough to fill two hands, while crows would be more like a hand-and-a-half. Birdnote has a nice video and blog comparing the two species: https://www.birdnote.org/listen/shows/ravens-and-crows-whos-who.