It’s a Monday night Mega-movie Raptor-Roll! We have Mr. North and DNF, Mom and DM2, a Short-eared Owl, a Northern Harrier, and what I think is a Rough-Legged Hawk. Mom and DM2 have been thrilling us with appearances since December 21, DNF and Mr. North are hard at work on their nest, and tundra birds are taking a break on the Flyway. I loved all of these videos, but I especially enjoyed Mr. North’s hover, Mom and DM2’s repeated visits to N2B, and both Flyway videos. It was fascinating to see two a short-eared owl and a rough-legged hawk perched just ten feet apart, 1900 miles or so south of their summer homes.
Thank you so much for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring!
Decorah North Nest
December 27, 2021: Nest visit, a little fishing – https://youtu.be/JvACKUP2BRI. I liked the nest visit, but I really loved seeing Mr. North doing a brief dinosaur stomp at 4:32. He’s clearly fishing, but why is he fishing from the bank? Perhaps the fish moved downstream, making perch fishing a little more challenging. We see him change banks twice – it makes me think of changing spots in a boat! – and finally makes a move around 12:24. Check out his very cool hover at around 12:30 as he hunts for fish in the stream. Bald eagles don’t hover very much, but it might be his best option given the location of the fish.
I counted roughly 15 wing strokes in four seconds, which works out to about 3.75 beats per second: a difficult, labor-intensive feat given Mr. North’s wingspan of 80 inches or so!
December 26, 2021: Mr. North harvests a huge stick, brings it to the nest – https://youtu.be/3SSqkD4F4Uw. Mr. North brings in a DNF-sized wonky stick and figures out where it should go. Here? No. How about here? Nope! How about this spot? Perfect!
December 25, 2021: DNF doing stick arrangement in the nest – https://youtu.be/whHbteAsqmw. I like this video for several reasons. It’s always great to see DNF, she’s moving some impressively large sticks, and we can really see what the Norths have done this fall at the beginning of the video! DNF and Mr. North’s stick obsessions are hilarious, but they get results: a well-structured nest with most heavy, wonky sticks to the bottom and outside, and most straighter, lighter sticks to the top and inside. If they have been adding an average of four sticks a day since October 20, they have brought in 272 sticks so far!
December 24, 2021: DM2 and Mom show up at N2B and give watchers an early Christmas present!
December 27, 2021: Mom and DM2 visit N2B – https://youtu.be/0fHGJEvlihI. Go to 53 seconds to see DM2 in the nest. He starts to move a few sticks around and nibbles at some unknown and extremely desiccated jerky, including one item (a bone?) that he picks up, tries to eat, and eventually discards. He flies away and we see Mom at N2B at 3:46. DM2 flies in with a stick at 5:31 and places it as Mom hop flaps up the Skywalk. We haven’t watched DM2 place a stick much lately, but he’s clearly kept his sticky OCD. Even the smallest stick requires careful placement! He exits up the Skywalk at 7:31.
December 26, 2021: Both visit N2B and DM2 with a stick – https://youtu.be/NaDicBHIxtA. Go to 2:10 to see Mom nibbling at nestovers and 3:54 to see DM2 fly in with a stick!
December 24, 2021: DM2 to N2B, Mom joins, no sharing – https://youtu.be/IQabPqwj12k. DM2 is eating at N2B when Mom joins him. She seems interested in eating, but she isn’t especially insistent and DM2 looks pretty hungry! She briefly vocalizaes around 4:38 and flies up to stand sentinel on the Skywalk. We get a few brief vocals at 6:44 as Mom seems to be paying attention to something that we can’t see. The camera operator switches back and forth between DM2 eating and Mom watching.
Mom and DM2 spent over an hour in the nest on December 24! You can see the whole visit here: https://youtu.be/sPYIB_CCnlk.
December 23, 2021: A Short-eared Owl on the Flyway!
December 26, 2021: Northern Harrier hunting and on the snag – https://youtu.be/Pl-rcCNSFYA. More grassland birds! I’ve been fascinated by the number of harriers we’ve been seeing and I don’t recall seeing a rough-legged hawk or short-eared owl on the island before. Was it a good year for them? Are they modifying their migration paths in response to changes in habitat? Have we just not noticed them before? Whatever is going on, this video shows us why they are sometimes called skydancers and were assigned the genus name ‘Circus’, derived from the ancient Greek word ‘Kirkos’. Some references state that the word refers to a hawk or falcon that flies in circles, while others state that word itself means ‘Circle’. Either way, I loved to see the harrier’s dramatic circular flight.
December 23, 2021: Owl perches on branch – https://youtu.be/v4vGcQoR2jo. Check out the two birds on the snag! The bird at left is a short-eared owl and I believe the bird at right might be a rough-legged hawk based on what we an see of its rump.
One of the worlds most widely distributed owls, the Short-eared Owl is an open country, ground-nesting species that inhabits marshes, grasslands, and tundra throughout much of North America and Eurasia. At its northern range, it would nest in some of the same territory that rough-legged hawks nest in. Both species nest on the ground – short-eared owls are one of the few owls to construct their own nests – and feed on a very similar prey base. It’s fascinating to see two such beautiful birds perched just ten feet apart, 1900 miles or south of their summer homes. Learn more about short-eared owls here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Short-eared_Owl.