– By RRP Director John Howe
We have finally completed our recent assessment of what we believe is going on at N3 and what Mom Decorah and DM2 are up to. ALL the eagles of Decorah are out doing the things that, well…eagles do. We don’t always understand why they are doing what they do, but they really are not obligated to report back to us humans either!
First, we can report that Mom Decorah and DM2 appear to be healthy and have been hanging out around the nest tree N3 on the Upper Iowa River. Second, some sad news that you may have picked up on yesterday’s notes and photos posted on our FB page. To the best of our knowledge, Mom and DM2 are not incubating whatever egg/eggs they were tending at the N3 nest. As of this writing, we have completed overhead recon of the nest and will report any findings.
It is hard to acknowledge this loss, with our fond memories following Mom and Dad Decorah – from 2007, when she arrived at the hatchery valley until now. So much love and attention have been showered on our eagles over the years. Time passes and things change in the eagle world as we experienced firsthand when Dad Decorah disappeared in 2018 and DM2 stepped in. This was Mom Decorah’s 15th nesting season and if you were following earlier reports, her egg laying timing was definitely late and we really put a lot of field time in to determine that at least one egg had been laid around March 20th and was being incubated. Around April 19th, we noticed that their incubation activities had ceased. If a hatch was to happen it would have been this week. Here in 2022, Mom Decorah not hatching and fledging at least 2 eaglets in a season is a first, and something that we are not used to with her successful nesting seasons and eaglets fledged – 39 eaglets over the years!
This is DM2 in 2020. You can see the unique dark flecks in the iris of his left eyeball.
Things are changing in the hatchery valley and Mom and DM2’s territory may be changing too. We do not see Mom or DM2 at the hatchery like we used to and are now combing through our files taking a closer look for the last time we identified them in that part of their original territory. We know that eagle territories change over time and since Mom and DM2 moved their active nest over to N3, they are not in the hatchery valley as much and the lack of their presence leaves an open door to other eagles who would like it. We have new pair of eagles that have settled in and are occupying and defending our rebuilt starter nest at N1. Many watchers are wondering if they could be offspring of Mom and Dad Decorah – it is an interesting thought, but we will never know. Both the new male and female were at N1 last night fending off another visiting adult eagle as night set in. We were wondering if it could have been DM2, but could not tell. They have found the trout in the retention pond and appear to be relatively comfortable with the increased human presence (and geese!) that goes along with the Decorah hatchery nests.
A close-up view of the new female eagle on the Y-Branch. Notice the detail of her beak, nare, and iris.
We are in the process of collecting detailed biometric data to identify these eagles and doing our best to document if and when Mom or DM2 visit this part of their territory or possible former territory. That is a tough pill to swallow that another pair of eagles may take control of the hatchery valley, but that could well be happening. Time will tell and we will be following the eagles along the way. Join the RRP crew and enjoy the ride!
Our new male and female close up and personal! See the differences? Male front, female back.