Decorah North Eaglet Update and NestFlix!

It’s been a busy few days at the North nest! DN15 and DN16 turned 19 and 18 days old today. What’s fueling their incredible growth rates? We’ve watched Mr. North and DNF stuff skunk, rabbit, duck, placenta, squirrel, trout, sucker, and many unidentified bits of meat into hungry eaglet mouths. The eaglets’ footpads and talons have grown and changed color, their grey thermal down is rapidly overtaking their fluffy white natal down, and the two of them are lunging at and gulping large strips of flesh. Of course, all that food resulted in a whole lot of eaglet poop. Little slices went to big spatters on the crib rails as the eaglets got better at sitting up, bending over, and shooting poop out of the nest – and on DNF!

April 13, 2022: DN15 and DN16. When did they get so big?

April 13, 2022: DN15 and DN16. When did they get so big?

I loved all of these videos, but I was particularly fascinated by DNF’s extensive nest prep on April 12 (she buried the eaglets under a large grass pile), napping on the rails in the sunshine, and the foot comparison and tiny crop drop on April 9. Thanks so much to our camera operators for finding such special moments, to our video makers for sharing them, and to all of you for watching, learning, and especially for caring. We hope you enjoy tonight’s NestFlix!

Decorah North Eagles

April 13, 2022: Siblings are the best! While both eaglets have grown in nice ‘coats’ of dense thermal down, cold wet weather is still a challenge. DN16 was clearly feeling the cold on April 13: look closely and you’ll see a few shivers as it huddles with sibling DN15. DN15 appeared to pull up the blankets towards the end of the video, grabbing two small beakfuls of grass and depositing them on DN16’s back and head. It might be anthropomorphic, but it looked to me like DN15 was taking care of DN16 in Mom and Dad’s absence. Does DN15 remember Mom covering both eaglets up on April 12?

April 12, 2022: It was a busy day for nestorations!

  • DNF versus the corn stalks: DNF is surrounded by a beautiful but troublesome golden circle of cornstalks. Decorah-ating is difficult as she struggles to get the husks where she wants them while avoiding her sleeping eaglets. At 2:47, she bonks DN16 with nest material and at 3:14, she nearly covers DN15 as she moves the husks to the right side of the nest. Windbreak? Decorah-ation? Long-term project? Only the eagles know for sure…but don’t miss one of the DDD’s taking a nap on a squirrel fur pillow at the very end of the video!
  • DNF pulling out grass and delivering it to the nest: Watch the first part of this video to see how an eagle gets grass out of the ground and to the nest! I loved how she built her stash. Instead of taking a little bit of grass to the nest, she gathered a large pile and brought it all in at once.
  • Another grass delivery, DNF working hard: By weight, we might have had more grass deliveries than food on April 12! DNF brings an enormous pile of grass into the nest and proceeds to bury both eaglets: That will keep them warm and dry!
April 12, 2022: DNF brings a large pile of grass to the nest.

April 12, 2022: DNF brings a large pile of grass to the nest

Why did DNF spend so much time bringing and arranging materials onĀ  April 12? While eagles can’t predict long-term weather patterns, they can sense the short term barometric pressure changes that accompany large storms. She was probably preparing to ride out the storms that hit northeastern Iowa a few hours later.

April 9, 2022: Eaglet explorers!

April 9, 2022: Eaglet explorers!

April 11, 2022: Napping on the rails in the sunshine When will the eaglets begin nestploration? I feel like we’ve been asking (and I’ve been complaining) about the lack of eaglet explorers since April 4th! Well, we finally got our wish! The warm sun brought DN15 and DN16 out to the rails, where they basked, panted, sprawled, and had us wishing they would get back to the middle of the nest bowl. I enjoyed this whole video, but I especially loved the eagle tongue close-ups at its beginning!

April 9, 2022: DN15 casts its first pellet It’s an eaglet milestone! Hatchlings don’t have the capacity to expel non-digestible materials like scales, fur, and hair, so their parents feed them little bites of pure meat made slippery by saliva. But after DN15 gulped down a fish tail on April 7, we knew we’d be seeing a pellet soon!

Eagle talons are clear when they hatch and darken as they age. I love to see their clown clompers getting bigger - look at those adorable carrot toes! - and their talons turning taupe. Melanin stiffens and strengthens talons and feathers: one of the reasons that birds like pelicans and storks have light plumage and dark flight feathers.

April 9, 2022: Tiny toes and talons!

April 9, 2022: Foot closeup comparison, clown feet developing DN15 and DN16 are slumbering in the warm sunlight under the watchful eye of DNF. At 30 seconds, we get a great closeup of DN15’s long carrot toes and taupe talons. At 54 seconds, we see DN16’s smaller toes and clear talons. And at 1:12 we get a wonderful look at the two of them side by side. DN16 is just 34 hours younger than DN15, but its toes are pinker and its talons are smaller, shorter, and clearer. Enjoy DN16’s tiny little toes now: our littlest eaglet will be sprouting clown clompers in a matter of days!

April 9, 2022: DN15 & DN16 a pile of cuteness April 9 was a fabulous day for video! I loved this look at DN15 and DN16 in the afternoon sunshine – thermal down tracts, DN15’s growing clown clompers, and little white heads bobbing over flannel grey pajamas! But I also loved DN15’s tiny little crop drop at 4:37. Look closely and you’ll see DN15’s crop drop as it shifts food down into its stomach. Having a meal on tap keeps eaglets supplied with the nutrients and calories they need to sustain their growth.