March 20, 2023: NestFlix and News from Decorah and GSB!

We have your NestFlix! In Decorah, HD and HM care for their eggs and disagree about a shift change. The Bark-a-lounger is just too comfortable to leave! At GSB, we have meadowlark for breakfast and the return of Ralex Honnold (Raccoon Alex Honnold). Savanna isn’t happy about the raccoon and is absolutely ready to defend her nest box from any intruder. You go, Savanna!

When will Savanna lay eggs? We don’t have a schedule for her, so we’ll be looking for physical and behavioral clues. She might spend the entire night in her nest box, appear to be laying eggs, or appear pleasantly plump, with a slightly distended abdomen. Bob used to say that eggspectant female peregrines appeared dumpy, but I like plump a lot better! The C&C Ohio Peregrine page had some great pictures of this that we’ll share tomorrow.

Decorah Eagles
March 20, 2023: HM and her eggs

March 20, 2023: HM and her eggs

March 20, 2023: A dropped stick and a shift change HM is peacefully incubating when HD flies in at 28 seconds. At 34 seconds, we see him perched nearby, a stick in his beak. He drops it at 38 seconds and stares down after it, appearing somewhat perplexed by its sudden departure. HM leaves and HD carefully steps down into the egg cup to shimmy the eggs beneath his warm feathers. Geese honk and smaller birds vocalize as HD pulls the covers up and flattens himself down in the nest. Watch at 2:36 as a pair of geese nearby – perhaps flying into N2B? – attract his attention.

March 20. 2023: HM glows in the bright, warm sunlight.

March 20, 2023: HM glows in the bright, warm sunlight

March 19, 2023: HM extreme closeups A beautiful look at a beautiful eagle! Look for her nictitating third eyelid, memorize her ‘eyelashes’, and identify the special feathers that cover her earholes. Or just bask in her beauty!

March 18, 2023: HM with nesting, HD not ready, she beaks him Sometimes you don’t feel like getting out of the Bark-a-lounger! You ignore the alarm clock, pull the covers up, and pretend your mate isn’t pecking you. If only it worked!

At 2:32, HM flies in with a talonful of dry, brown grass. HD vocalizes and suddenly beaks her at 2:47. Did she step on his tail? She nibbles back and looms over him, making it very clear that it’s her turn to incubate now. She gives him a few gentle nibbles in the third minute while he vocalizes. He gets up and she takes over, carefully adjusting some nesting material before settling over the eggs.

Great Spirit Bluff
March 19, 2023: Newman and Savanna on the Rock Ledge Diver, aka The Love Shack

March 19, 2023: Newman and Savanna on the Rock Ledge Diner, aka The Love Shack

March 20, 2023: Savanna outside nest box. Raccoon above on cliff Ralex Honnold has returned and Savanna doesn’t like it! The video opens with her perched on the lip of the nest box. At 10 seconds, she tilts her head as if responding to something at the top of the cliff. At 12 seconds, we hear on odd sound and she responds by mantling. I don’t know if she can see the raccoon, but we don’t see it until about 47 seconds. the camera operator zooms in on it at 1:15 as it explores the top of the bluff. Savanna remains uneasily, mantling impressively at 1:56 and staring up toward the top of the cliff. The raccoon continues to prowl around the top of the ledge, eventually leaving at 4:23.

March 20, 2023: Newman delivers breakfast Newman is seated on the rock ledge diner with breakfast – an Eastern Meadowlark! He flies out at 43 seconds. When the video cuts back to the diner, Savanna is eating! She flies out with breakfast at 1:24. Even slowed down, it was difficult to catch her take off.

The Eastern Meadowlark was an interesting sight. The Howe family has a lovely goat prairie on top of the bluff – perfect habitat for grassland species like this. While it’s not inconceivable that a meadowlark flew out in front of the bluff, I suspect that Newman was hunting the prairie –  a great example of how maintaining high quality habitat benefits species you might not expect! 

Odds and Ends
This nest contains three Yellow Warbler Egg and one Brown-headed Cowbird egg. Photo credit Stylurus:

This nest contains three Yellow Warbler Egg and one Brown-headed Cowbird egg. Photo credit Stylurus:

Egg Colors and Shapes –
Bald eagles have white eggs, peregrine falcons have eggs that range from light cream through brick red, and red-tailed hawks have pale eggs that are lightly splotched with brown. How and why do the birds we watch lay differently-colored and shaped eggs?

World’s longest-winged birds go easy on older partners This is a fascinating article that has been sitting on my phone since December. ‘A new study led by the University of Liverpool has found that wandering albatrosses with older partners spend less time on foraging trips than those with more sprightly partners so that their mate has a shorter wait without food.’