It’s the first NestFlix of the New Year! In Decorah, DM2 wears his puffiest winter jacket and Mom and DM2 perch on the Y-Branch: a late Christmas present from two beautiful eagles in a very treasured place! At Decorah North, a squirrel goes shopping and Mr. North and DNF do a little stick tango before DNF takes over the sticky decisions. Don’t miss the beautiful coyote or icy eagles on the Mississippi Flyway! Wintering animals at this latitude know how to stay warm and find food even in the coldest of weather!
Thanks so much for watching, sharing, learning, and caring with us. I can hardly wait for everything we’re going to see and learn in 2022! I know that a lot of you celebrate the birds we watch by making art. If you email your art to [email protected] – digital or photos of paintings, fabric art, sketches, collages, poetry, songs, or other works involving any of the wildlife we watch – I will post it every Friday. Please include the name you want used and a brief description of your art. Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did!
January 1, 2022: DM2 and Mom on the Y-Branch – two treasured eagles in a treasured place.
January 2, 2022: DM2 all puffed up – https://youtu.be/kXTPfrqW5Sw. It’s right around 0F/-17C – cold even by a bald eagle’s standards – and DM2 is styling in the puffiest of eagle down jackets! Layers of fluffy down feathers trap air beneath DM2’s stiff exterior feathers, keeping him warm even in the coldest of weather. He’s also hunched down over his feet and legs, which keeps them warmer and reduces energy radiation. How do eagles stay warm in sub-zero temperatures? We have a blog about that! https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/01/17/flashback-blog-how-do-eagles-stay-warm-in-cold-weather/
January 1, 2022: Mom on N1, DM2 joins, copulation – https://youtu.be/19jVrwanZ2Q. Mom and DM2 must have felt like hanging out at N1 and the Y! TGo to 1:14 to see Mom flying into N1 with a fishcicle! She eats and flies out to perch on the Y. DM2 joins her at 7:11 and the two duet. It is so great to hear them again! Check 12:38 and you’ll notice that Mom has her down jacket really fluffed up and is leaning forward a little bit, perhaps indicating an interest in copulation. DM2 seems to pick up on her body language, since he flies over to her branch at 2:46 and the two copulate. We get some wonderful close-ups of the two perched side-by-side, with the barn and field behind them. I loved seeing them and this video brought back some wonderful memories!
Decorah North Eagles
January 2, 2022: Mr. North looks stylish in his wintery down jacket! Subzero temperatures had every one in winter gear today.
December 31, 2021: Intense stick work, stick tango – https://youtu.be/o5hTLDOBEZw. Mr. North flies in with DNF close behind him. He uncovers a frozen nest over and hands it over to DNF, who nibbles at it in a not very enthused way. At 8:21, Mr. North flies in with a DNF-sized wonky stick! He places it while DNF digs in the nest, perhaps looking for more better nestovers. She eventually grabs a long straight stick and gets involved in decisions about the wonky stick, hauling it all around the nest as she searches for the perfect spot.
January 2, 2022: Decorah North Squirrel Gathering Nesting Material for its Nest – https://youtu.be/t-RjxQmz2JE. Mr. North and DNF are laying low during a spell of extremely cold weather – providing the perfect opportunity for an intrepid squirrel to gather nesting material! It strips the cornstalks and stuffs its cheeks full before making its way to its nest!
Squirrels will begin breeding soon and this squirrel is getting ready by lining her nest – most likely a cavity in a tree – with layers of soft material. The nest will keep her and her kits safe and warm through the cold Iowa weather! Eagles aren’t safe neighbors, but they come with more rewards than risks: a Nest Depot, convenience store, and even housing for animals willing to take the risk of neighbors that might eat them.
Is this an example of commensalism? Commensalism is an association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm. While squirrels, mice, and small birds will come to harm if eagles catch them, they benefit from food, nesting material, and some degree of protection from dedicated predators like owls (mice) and Cooper’s Hawks (small birds). I think it is and sometimes wonder how the loss of eagles and their nests impacted the plant and animal communities around them when eagles were rare.
January 2, 2022: A coyote lopes across the Mississippi River.
January 2, 2022: Eagles fishing – https://youtu.be/5m4aTj5BP-k. How many eagles do you count? Bald eagles fish the open water below Lock and Dam Number Seven, perching on the ice and flying through tendrils of icy fog as the river breathes. Where does the steam come from? The air was roughly 30 degrees or so colder than the water below it this morning. As water evaporated in the dry, frigid air, it precipitated out as steam and ice crystals, creating great clouds of cold mist for the eagles to fly through. Beautiful!
January 2, 2022: Coyote on the move – https://youtu.be/Z5jldgdpxbo. This is an excellent time of the year for coyotes! The ice opens up vast stretches of land for easy travel and the upper lake is almost entirely free of people. I loved watching the coyote lope over the river at a relaxed pace: ears up, tail free, and thick fur bristling against the cold. It’s nice to see our wild neighbors out, about, and at ease!