Welcome back to our regularly scheduled NestFlix! While we’ve been monitoring our peregrine falcon sites, the Decorah North eagles have been busy learning to fly and practicing landings, and the new Decorah Eagles have been working on N1. We’re still waiting for DN16 to fledge, although it shouldn’t be too long now, especially with DN15’s inspirational flights!
I loved all of these videos, but I especially enjoyed the hilarious fish-a-palooza – watch out for your toes, Mr. North! – and the early visit in Decorah on a beautiful green early summer morning. Thank you so much for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring! I love our field season, but it’s good to get back and catch up again.
June 13, 2022: DN15 Hovers and Further Branching – https://youtu.be/PngSwCM5Vgk. Fledgling DN15 is still developing and refining his or her flight skills. We get to see a nice hover and landing, a little flapdoodling around the nest, and a short flight out to land on a branch. Flying is instinctive, but skilled flying – and landing! – take a lot of practice!
June 12, 2022: DN15 close-ups – https://youtu.be/rrHDqh5shhE. I enjoyed seeing DN15, but I can’t say the same for the blackflies! Larval blackflies require clean water and are an important source of food for fish, which means they signal a healthy ecosystem and plenty of food for hungry eaglets. But, much like mosquitoes, adult female blackflies need a blood meal to develop their eggs. The eaglets indirectly benefit from the larva but are pestered by the adults. I’m glad we didn’t see many of them earlier this year!
Why are we seeing so many blackflies at the nest this year? Historically speaking, this level is pretty average. Blackflies lay their eggs in running water and last year was very dry, which greatly diminished blackfly breeding habitat. While we aren’t seeing the record levels of rain we saw in 2019, this spring has been a lot wetter and the blackfly population rebounded with the rising water. You can read more about blackflies here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2019/06/24/blackflies/.
June 12, 2022: 10am fishapalooza! https://youtu.be/GduoSd-iQh0. Better watch those toes, DNF and Mr. North – DN15 and DN16 are hungry! We have one drop and dash at the beginning of the video and another one at 7:03. Poor DNF is mobbed as the hungry eaglets rush in to grab fish #2. They squee and mantle over their fish while she vocalizes and picks at a nestover. Mr. North joins the family at 9:40, giving us a wonderful family portrait even if the eaglets were too busy mantling to pose for photos! I really enjoyed this video.
June 11, 2022: DN15 returns to the nest – https://youtu.be/sD8rfPjU8Lw. DN15 returned to the nest after its first flight. Go to 4:05 to see an excellent two-feet down landing. There’s no place like home!
June 10, 2022: Eagle out flying & Female on N1 and trimming the tree – https://youtu.be/ay49lgqL6lk. I love the beautiful misty light at the beginning of this video and really enjoyed the tree trimming, which starts at 7:56. You can see how she preps the stick, trimming off branches, leaves, and bark to produce a clean, straight line. We’ve seen eagles prepping branches for use in nestoration, but we’ve also watched them clear sightlines and favorite perches without bringing snapped sticks in. I’m not sure which this is, but we’ll see if she brings it in once she breaks it!
June 6, 2022: New female spends time on the Y – https://youtu.be/Sp16MBpqe_s. Early visit by one of the new eagles: https://youtu.be/ynRasHtElkc. It’s a beautiful early summer morning and N1 is looking great!
I would love to know whether this is a new pair forming a first bond, or an established pair who adopted N1 after their own nest failed. When did we start seeing the new eagles? We thought we were seeing Mom and DM2 in early March, but we’re no longer so sure. Unfortunately, several of those observations were long range, which made it hard to identify features like iris flecks and feathers. We know that Mom appeared to lay an egg in N3 in late February, didn’t begin full incubation until March 21, and quit incubation on or around April 17.
We shouldn’t have seen Mom and DM2 together at the hatchery between March 21 and April 15. But we have several videos showing two eagles – the new eagles – in and around N1 in late March. We started to see a lot more of them after N1 nestwork began on April 3rd, possibly interspersed with visits from Mom or DM2. Given the timeline, I suspect that these are eagles forming a pair bond, since mated eagles should have been on eggs or hatchlings in late March. We’re thrilled that they appear to have established a bond with one another and with N1, and we have our talons crossed for next spring!
June 4, 2022: TX Ninja sent us an eagle – https://youtu.be/rNbPYORqEBI. A video from the day our moderators celebrated TX Ninja, and a wonderful look at the new, very full-cropped female eagle! Fly high, Ninja!
Odds and Ends
Peregrine Falcons released in Des Moines in 1991: KCCI Archive – https://www.kcci.com/article/kcci-archive-peregrine-falcons-released-in-des-moines-in-1991/40230061#. This was fun to watch! We monitor right around 50 sites right now, including nine sites in eastern Iowa alone. It’s hard to believe how recently there were no falcons at all in Iowa or the rest of the Midwest. Long may they fly!