Countdown to Shutdown #2: The Confusion Couch Becomes a Tilt-a-Whirl

I looked back through our notes and relived the wild cottonwood ride all over again! Mom and DM2, the appearance of two new eagles at N1, and the Canada goose takeover at N2B kept us enthralled, concerned, thrilled, and clinging to the Confusion Couch. 

February at the hatchery: Mom, DM2, and a few eagles we don’t recognize!

Back in early February of 2022, we were seeing a little bit of Mom and DM2 around our hatchery nests: enough to give us hope that they might come back to N2B or N1. We identified DM2 on February 2, Mom and DM2 on February 8, Mom and what might have been DM2 on February 14, and Mom on February 16. An eagle we thought was DM2 brought a stick into N1 on February 16, although subsequent events and a review of the footage makes us think it probably wasn’t.

March: Less of Mom and DM2 and more of two new eagles in and around N1

Mom appeared to lay eggs at N3 in late February and early March – her standard timeline with DM2 – but she never went into full incubation. Meanwhile, we continued to see eagles around the hatchery. We bought a larger confusion couch and passed out popcorn while we waited and speculated. When would Mom lay eggs? Would she and DM2 come back to N2B? As February turned into March, it became obvious that we were seeing a new pair of eagles in and around N1. Mom and DM2 still put in occasional appearances, but didn’t appear to be running the new eagles off. The Confusion Couch began to spin!

Early April: New eagles claim N1

Mom finally laid her first egg between Sunday, March 20 and Tuesday morning, March 22. Meanwhile, our camera operators, moderators, videomakers, and followers were regularly documenting adult eagles in and around N1. Between early February and late March, new adult eagle sightings increased from occasional glimpses to regular occurrences. We documented a few chases between adult eagles, a few subadults floating through, Canada geese nesting in N2B and occasionally checking out N1, and held on to the cottonwood tilt-a-whirl for dear life as the eagles worked things out. By April 4, it became clear to us that a new pair of eagles had claimed N1. At least one additional male eagle dropped by in April, but he vanished as quickly as he appeared and we didn’t see him again.

Mom and DM2 kept busy with incubation at N3 until some time between April 17 and April 19, when they stopped for unknown reasons. It wasn’t yet time for the eggs to hatch, which means they must have been destroyed or broken by something. It was the first time eagles didn’t produce young here since roughly 2003: an incredible 19 years of production for Dad, his original mate, Mom, and DM2.

N3 destroyed in a July storm


N3 was destroyed by a storm on July 23. Since then, Robin Brumm has identified an eagle she thinks was DM2 and Seth Vreeman has identified an eagle that looks an awful lot like Mom. Both of them were perched in the area that once held N3. Meanwhile, new eagles HD and HM continue to hang out near N1. Their nestorations have diminished somewhat, since their hormones are at a low ebb and lumberjacking is much more difficult in hot, humid weather. But they are still very much around and we expect their nestorations to ramp up in September or October.

Thanks for sticking with us through this year’s wild cottonwood ride! We’ll be shutting down the Decorah and Decorah North cameras at 5pm on Saturday, August 20, at 5pm. We invite everyone to join our special chat/celebration/fundraiser from 3 to 5pm of that day. If you’d like to read more about Mom, DM2, the new eagles, or N3, follow the links below.

Links