Spring has finally sprung near the 45th parallel! We hope you love bejeweled feathers, the sound of rain, eagles on melting ice, and inquisitive geese as much as we do. Happy Fri-yay, everyone – and thanks for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring!
Decorah North Eagles
March 18, 2022: DNF carefully rolls her eggs
March 18, 2022: DNF rainy close-ups – https://youtu.be/dLJW0A5Zqkg. I love the sound of rain. DNF’s bejeweled feathers are beautifully beaded with rain, but the wonderfully textured soft spring audioscape – rain drops near and far, distant geese, a light wind – stole my heart and made my morning brighter.
March 18, 2022: Midnight shiftchange and Mr. North foot rolls the eggs – https://youtu.be/1y3ompAJ_nw. This is fascinating! It’s about 11pm nest time. DNF gets up and starts vocalizing. Mr. North answers from the darkness. She flies out and the two duet for two minutes, 8 seconds before Mr. North flies in at 4:48. He foot rolls the eggs and settles over them. Coyotes start singing at 5:50.
March 17, 2022: Mr. North taking a bath – https://youtu.be/b-wRFdXe_0Y. Mr. North grabs a little spring spa time in the stream! He dunks his head, shakes his tail, and splishes and splashes to shake dirt, dandruff, and parasites off.
Compare the video at 1:03 and 3:38, and you’ll see that the creek is flowing faster! Melt creates fish-free ephemeral breeding grounds for frogs and salamanders. The brief, shallow pools last long enough for eggs to turn into froglings and efts (baby salamanders). Wondering what you can do to help wildlife on your land or neighborhood? Preserve or build landscapes that support ephemeral water bodies. Water doesn’t have to be there 365 days to be valuable!
March 17, 2022: American Robin – https://youtu.be/rimjdiB41WI. I’ve taken American Robins for granted all my life. Thanks so much to all of you (and especially the camera operator) for reminding me that they are so beautiful! Long may we keep their woods and bugs alive!
March 15, 2022: DNF rolls the two eggs – https://youtu.be/KDIO7La8oA4. We finally get a glimpse of the eggs when DNF stands up, carefully tucks them underneath her, and fine tunes the nest bowl before settling down to oh-so-carefully cover them again!
Why are eagle eggs white? Why are peregrine eggs round and (somewhat) pointy/asymmetrical? We have a blog for that! https://www.raptorresource.org/2022/03/15/egg-colors-and-shapes/
March 17, 2022: A subadult eagle on the Flyway
March 17, 2022: A lot of eagles and one fish – https://youtu.be/wpVRhXqwtGY. Everything about this video is everything amazing about the flyway! A favorite sequence: at 4:42, a juvenile eagle arrives to check out an adult’s fish. The adult is willing to let it grab a mouthful of fish, which it wolfs down with abandon. The two (probably unrelated, but who knows?) share a few more mouthfulls before everyone shows up for the fish party.
Decorah Eagles/Canada Geese
March 17, 2022: It’s a lovely morning in the nest and you are an awesome, beautiful goose!
March 17, 2022: Mom on M2 and a big fish from the pond – https://youtu.be/eOEDiak9Xyk. Mom wades into the pond at 3:45 to drag a large, dead fish out of the water!
March 17, 2022: Mother Goose makes herself at home – https://youtu.be/7nD43nx6WXk. We still don’t know if the geese are going to take over N2B, but the female goose shows every sign of nesting as she lays down, churns her feet, and scrapes a shallow depression in the nest. The substrate is still pretty loose and fluffy and the nest is an excellent place to lay eggs.
When I say ‘bird’s nest’, you know the type of nest I’m talking about, right? It could be a bald eagle’s stick platform high up in the branches of a tree. Or perhaps a peregrine falcon’s scrape in dirt, sand, or gravel on a shallow cliff ledge. Or maybe the burrows that bank swallows and belted kingfishers excavate in dirt, the cavity nests that woodpeckers excavate in dead wood, or the woven nests that orioles and weavers build. Read more about nests here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/10/29/birds-and-nest-building/.
50 States of Conservation
People often ask how they can help birds, insects, and nature in their neighborhoods and communities. You can always plant native, avoid pesticides and herbicides, and landscape to support the beautiful, vivid lives that surround you. But it also helps to join groups that work for broader sustainability within communities, watersheds, and forests. Thanks to Maggie Jones and Kathleen Carlyle for their Wisconsin suggestions! Let’s do some networking – tell me about the small conservation organizations in your area and I’ll add them to the 50 states. Without food, clean water, and a place to live, you have nothing. Groups like these are one of the reasons we have nice things!
Wisconsin Wetlands Association
WWA and director Tracey Hames have made huge impacts in the realms of Wisconsin’s wetland protections. They work on legislation, education, and protection of wetlands and groundwater, effectively communicating all the services that wetlands provide. https://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/
River Alliance of Wisconsin
RWA and director Allison Werner have also made great strides in protecting waterways and Wisconsin’s water resources. They have held the government accountable and influenced policy. They also engage the public and instill appreciation of this acclaimed resource of Wisconsin! https://wisconsinrivers.org/
Friends of the Black River
FBR and their dedicated group of citizen leaders has a very active community presence in the extended Black River Falls area. They strive to protect the Black River watershed and hold many annual cleanups along the Black and its tributaries. They also provide multiple annual events to provide access to paddling opportunities and paddling training for young and old. http://www.friendsoftheblackriver.org/
Driftless Area Bird Conservation
I would be severely remiss in not mentioning this tiny organization and its founder, Jon Stravers. Although just now developing a website and known largely through word of mouth and through its musical fund-raising events, this non-profit has had a huge impact in Northeast Iowa on sensitive bird populations. Focusing on two species of greatest conservation need, the Red-shouldered Hawk and Cerulean Warbler, Jon’s work of 40 years has revealed much that was unknown about both these birds and their local habitats and resulted in the 2013 designation of the area encompassing Allamakee and Clayton Counties as a Globally Important Bird Area. His findings have also influenced forest management within Yellow River State Forest, contributing to stabilizing Cerulean Warbler populations.
Rob Horwich formed Community Conservation to promote global biodiversity and sustainable land use. The organization catalyzes, facilitates, and empowers local people to manage and conserve natural resources within the social, cultural, and economic context of their communities. https://communityconservation.org/
Valley Stewardship Network
Valley Stewardship Network works to protect land and waters through research, education, and community empowerment. They do a lot of water quality monitoring and work with farmers on rotational grazing, prairie strips, watersheds, and mapping. Conserving the land makes environmental and economic sense for family farms. http://valleystewardshipnetwork.org
Crawford Stewardship Project
Crawford Stewardship Project works to protect Crawford County and neighboring regions from threats of polluting and extractive industries, to promote sustainable land and water use, environmental justice, and local control of natural resources. They gather stream quality data, try to stop CAFO expansion in the wonderful lower Wisconsin and Kickapoo river watersheds, and doing regular geology fieldtrips on karst topography, and the importance of keeping surface water clean. They also organize well water testing, which is really important for human and environmental health! https://crawfordstewardship.org
Mississippi Valley Conservancy
I’ve worked with this group and they do wonderful things to conserve land – they conserved more than one of the bluffs we band falcons on! – and educate the public about the importance of habitat. https://www.mississippivalleyconservancy.org
The Prairie Enthusiasts
The Prairie enthusiasts work with landowners, farmers, and other organizations to save these prairie and oak savanna remnants which have persisted on the land since before European settlement. They also set stuff on fire! https://www.theprairieenthusiasts.org/