Sunday night NestFlix: Decorah North, the Flyway, and Eagle Valley!

We have your Sunday night NestFlix from Decorah North, the Flyway, and Eagle Valley! I liked all of these videos, but I especially enjoyed Mr. North stealing dinner from DNF, DNF’s stick struggle – the struggle is real! – and a juvenile red-tailed hawk perching next to two eagles at Eagle Valley. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did – thanks as always for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring!

Decorah Eagles North
December 12, 2021: Mr. North eats lunch

December 12, 2021: Mr. North eats lunch!

December 12, 2021: Furry lunch for Dad North Mr. North flies into the nest with something white and furry. He vocalizes and looks around alertly – are any visitors going to interrupt brunch? – before settling down to eat. He begins by defurring his UFO, expertly pulling off fur to get to the meat beneath. Watchers might find some of this a bit squeamish, but Mr. North is hungry and makes short work of his dinner! We know that eagle talons are long, but we don’t often get to compare them with anything. Take a look at 12:50 to see Mr. North’s incredibly long, strong, hallux talon!

What is Mr. North eating? Could it be hasenpfeffer? White-tailed jackrabbits (actually hares, not rabbits), turn white in the winter, although the tips of their ears remain grey. But they are largely grassland animals and not especially common in Iowa, so I’m not sure how likely it would be for Mr. North to catch one. It could also be a weasel or an opossum. Opossum aren’t usually active during the day, but they don’t hibernate and will forage in snow and cold. Like white-tailed rabbits, weasels turn white in the winter and remain active throughout all but the coldest weather.

December 11, 2021: That's my dinner! Mr. North reclaims a dropped dinner from DNF

December 11, 2021: That’s mine! Mr. North reclaims his dropped dinner from DNF.

December 11, 2021: Christmas Grinch Mr. North steals food from DNF DNF is getting ready for a nice meal when Mr. North drops into the nest from above, grabs her dinner, and takes it away!

A little context: We heard two eagles, even though we only saw one at first. We think that Mr. North might have dropped the food when he landed and was simply retrieving it. Although DNF seems a bit surprised, she doesn’t mantle or complain when he takes it. You can watch a longer video here:

December 10, 2021: DNF vs. the sticks – the struggle is real! DNF harvests a large stick at 1:11, judging from the sound. She flies out across the field and pogos into the nest with it at 1:43. Does it go here? No. How about here? No! The stick is really wonky and looks quite heavy, which makes it hard to move. DNF picks it up and places it several times. She clearly has a vision for this stick, but the stick isn’t cooperating! She finally gets it placed to her satisfaction at about 7:19, but her stick struggle is not done! A long, straight stick needs to be re-adjusted and several shorter sticks need to be moved back! When it comes to sticks, an eagle’s work is never done.

Mississippi Flyway
December 12, 2021: A muskrat on the Flyway!

December 12, 2021: A muskrat on the Flyway!

December 12, 2021: Muskrat dives for vegetation and reappears A neat look at a fairly elusive animal. Muskrats are comfortable diving beneath the ice and cold hold their breath for 15 to 20 minutes.

Eagle Valley

December 12, 2021: Eagles and hawk perched together: I was extremely surprised to see a red-tailed hawk fly up and perch next to two adult eagles, and equally surprised by their lack of reaction. This hawk is a juvenile and I have to wonder if hunger didn’t drive its behavior. Eagles are excellent at finding food and a hungry red-tailed hawk will eat carrion! One by one, the birds fly out at the end of the video, with the hawk appearing to fly in the same direction as the eagles it was perching with.

One other very unlikely but extremely intriguing possibility. Was this red-tailed hawk raised in a bald eagle nest? It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. In that case, the young hawk might look for and feel comfortable in the company of eagles. A hawk was raised by eagles in BC in 2017 and in California in 2019. While it’s much more likely that the hawk was hungry and the eagles weren’t especially concerned about it in the absence of eaglets to protect, I’ve often wondered what their lives looked like once they left the nest.

Odds and Ends

Since I mentioned the hawk raised by eagles, a link:

This is the time of year when we start getting questions about snow and cold! A few links:

A dramatic behind-the-scenes story of the return of bald eagles (in Maine). This was a very fun read!