Thanks for the airmail, eagles! We received two postcards this week – one from D27 in Harmony, Minnesota and another from D36 near Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Where is D27?
D27 hatched in 2017 and is turning five this year – old enough to start her own family if she decides to settle down right away. She wasn’t far from N2B on March 15 and 16, which means we peeled our eyes when new eagles showed up on N1. Could one of them be her, or D24, or even D1? While either or both of these eagles could be Mom and Dad’s offspring, they don’t have bands or transmitters, which means they aren’t any of the eagles we’re tracking.
Back to D27! She spent part of March loop-de-looping between Decorah and Harmony, a distance of about 22 miles as the eagle flies. As of April 4, she was exploring the folded hills, deep valleys, bluffs, and rivers that surround Harmony. We know she’s spent time here before. Will she settle down or fly back to Decorah? We’re crossing our fingers, toes, and talons that we get to find out!
How about D36?
Two-year old D36 is spending time near Cedar Falls, Iowa. If you look at his interactive map, you’ll see he is sticking pretty tightly to river and public land. This area is much more developed than the Driftless, which means that animals tend to travel through and live in what natural corridors are left to them. D36’s map illustrates why public land – wildlife management areas, scenic and natural areas, county parks, and other set-asides – are so important to our wild neighbors. Last year, he visited southwest Minnesota in mid-March. We’ll see if he starts traveling more widely now that lakes are (finally) losing their ice cover.
Even though D27 and D36 stuck pretty tightly to their winter ranges, they put quite a few miles beneath their wings! Since January 1, 2022, D36 has traveled 983 miles and D27 has traveled 690 miles. Most of their flights were pretty short, perhaps reflecting January and February’s extreme cold: about 60% of D27’s 315 flights were under a mile, as were about 55% of D36’s 363 flights. We’re looking forward to seeing what both of them do now that spring is (finally) here! Fly high, enjoy the spring weather, and don’t forget to write!
A thousand thanks to Brett Mandernack and the staff of Eagle Valley for sharing their maps, data, and expertise, and to Kohler Company for supporting our bald eagle tracking program. Visit https://www.raptorresource.org/learning-tools/eagle-map/ to explore the travels of all of the eagles we’ve tracked.