North Nest Chases and Eagle Ice-Capades

Look at the North nest! The 2022 nest addition – which hadn’t been started when we did camera work in September – has got to be 10 to 12 inches high at least! We saw Mr. North and DNF begin bringing sticks to the nest on October 20. If the two added an average of four sticks every day since, they have added an incredible 288 sticks so far – and their pace should accelerate as the days begin to lengthen. We hope that Mr. North and DNF get a little time to themselves as fall migration ebbs and eagles settle into their wintering grounds: as today’s videos show, the Super Flyway can bring unwanted visitors to the nest’s very doorstep! On the Mississippi Flyway, an eagle gives a duck hunting tutorial and we get a nice look at a perching rough-legged hawk.

Decorah North Nest

December 21, 2021: GHO visits the nest tree We don’t get to see it for very long and it is very quiet – no calling or duetting. Look for it to fly in at five seconds and perch on the side of the nest. At 23 seconds, it flies over to the babysitting branch and perches for another six minutes or so.

December 20, 2021: The Chase I recommend starting this video at 2:21 – right after a subadult eagle lands in the nest. We get a brief close-up at 2:31 before the wary young bird takes off to the accompaniment of caws from the neighborhood crow alarm. She circles out and we hear eagle vocalizations. We see the subadult in a tree at about 3:18. It responds as DNF whips by it, although you might have to slow the video down to see it! We see one more pass before the subadult takes off at 3:45, with DNF in hot pursuit! Mr. North watches from the right side of the nest.

This made me think of peregrine falcons. Females tend to fight females and males tend to fight males. While I’ve sometimes seen female falcons take off after males, male falcons tend to avoid fighting their larger, more powerful counterparts unless they have no choice. While DNF chased an intruder – and possible competitor – away, Mr. North hung back and awaited the outcome. It looks like he joined the chase once DNF had the intruder on the run!

December 20, 2021: Mr. North the chase continues Mr. North might kick back while DNF rousts intruders, but don’t try to steal his fish! Mr. North spends a lot of this video fleeing from and engaging with subadult eagles after his breakfish. We hear him throughout the video and one of the subadults at around 3:30 – you’ll hear the difference once it vocalizes! Look into the distance at 4:43 and you’ll see an adult and sub-adult eagle rise up and engage across the field, as a third, darker eagle takes off north. You’ll see some lovely close-ups at 6:27, a cool look at Mr. North from above around 7:50, and three eagles soaring high at 9:34.

December 10, 2021: Juvie has a fan base I’m not sure how I missed this one! The juvenile eagle must be eating something tasty to have attracted all those crows. Or the North Valley was visited by an eagle star! Either way, it’s a funny and interesting video.

Mississippi Flyway
December 20, 2021: And the answer to Mr. North's question? Not very often, especially with all of these hungry migrants coming through! Fortunately, the North Valley and the Mississippi River Flyway are rich in food resources!

December 20, 2021: And the answer to Mr. North’s question? Not very often, especially with all of these hungry migrants coming through! Fortunately, the North Valley and the Mississippi River Flyway are rich in food resources!

December 20, 2021: Eagles on ice! A multi-age group of eagles gathers to forage and skate on the slushy ice forming on the sandbars and banks of the Mississippi River just north of La Crosse, WI. The river is full of easy pickings and the cold water keeps them fresh!

December 17, 2021: Bald eagle hunts a diving duck So I watched part of this between my fingers, while reminding myself that eagles need to eat too! But it is a pretty common hunting technique for eagles after diving ducks. The video opens with an eagle swooping on the duck, who dives underwater. The eagle continues to circle around and dive at the duck, who can only hold its breath for so long. After about five minutes, the eagle finally plunges into the water at 5:29. It swims for a little bit, duck clasped in its talons, before getting out of the water and flying away with its prize. We see its nest at 12:09 into the video.

Who’s That Bird?

December 17, 2021 – Rough-legged Hawk It’s a rough-legged hawk! Looking for RLH ID points? Check this video out!

  • Rough-legged hawks typically have smaller beaks and feet than Red-tails. You can see this pretty clearly throughout the video, but I especially noticed it at the opening.
  • See how the hawk is perched up towards the top of a small, skinny branch? Rough-legged hawks tend to prefer higher branches than their larger and heavier buteo counterparts.
  • Although you can’t see it now, rough-legged hawks have a distinctive white rump that is especially visible in flight.
  • Rough-legged hawks have feathered legs! I don’t always find this to be a helpful ID point, since a lot of birds tuck their legs up under their feathers. But RLH nest up in the high tundra and keeping bare flesh to a minimum – feathered legs, small feet, and small beaks – helps to keep them warm!

Read more buteo ID tips here!

Odds and Ends

Everyone is talking about this Steller’s Sea Eagle!