We’ve got your mega-movie raptor roll and some feeding observations! Still worried about DH2? As of yesterday, the little peaglet had been fed an incredible 84 times. HM did the most feedings (71 to HD’s 13) while HD provided most of the meals (38 to HM’s 2). As the first video shows, HM and DH2 have dialed feeding in! I also enjoyed the near miss with a PS (the hazards of being an eagle parent!), the lovely looks at DH2 on the 15th and 13th, and a peek at a grackle nesting inside the Decorah North nest. Thanks so much to our camera operators and video makers for finding and sharing such special moments with us!
April 18, 2023: A close look at DH2, who seemed very interested in exploring today!
April 17, 2023: HD brings TWO fish in less than 3 min. HM feeds HD – https://youtu.be/w4sRcJvQkpY (start at 4:32 for the feeding). I love this video! HM and DH2 have feeding completely dialed in. She pulls fish out of the refrigerator, positions her beak well, and picks up and offers food after she drops it. DH2 lunges for morsels and expertly grabs them while squeeing hungrily all the while. It has a nice little crop by the end of this feeding.
HM delivered eight fish on April 17 – a personal best! Note that at least one sucker fish has joined the trout. We used to consider them an undesirable rough fish, but they are very important to stream health. More on that, and our celebratory first sucker fish post – here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2023/04/13/watching-bald-eagles/.
April 18, 2023: HM and HD have really dialed in feeding!
April 15, 2023: Near miss with a PS! https://youtu.be/QcRHyO4W7mc. Ah, the perils of being an eagle parent! Towards the end of the video, DH2’s little bottom seems to be wriggly. DH2 gets up, leans over, and lets it fly right after HM moved her head away. Listen at 4:32 and you’ll hear it!
April 15, 2023: HM takes a break, DH2 stretches, warbles, preens, & snoozes – https://youtu.be/pPs1ClVrew8. I love the vigorous preening that begins at 1:52 and the tiny clown clompers – look at those little talons! – that follow. We have a tiny little warble at 2:02 and more preening at 3:10. Enjoy the little earholes…we won’t be able to see them for long!
April 18, 2023: Like father, like DH2!
We saw a tiny bit of preening on April 14, but this is the first time we’ve seen DH2 really go for it. Our eaglet is eight days old in this video and thermal down begins replacing natal down at 9 to 11 days of age. We don’t know whether or not emerging down produces an itchy sensation, but it is a change that DH2 might notice. It’s also possible that reflexive or instinctual preening has just started, possibly triggered by the arrival of thermal down or that something was wriggling around in DH2’s wingpits. Watch for more preening and for thermal down to begin emerging in tracts along DH2’s body.
April 18, 2023: DH2 turns 12 days old. It seemed like it went from a tiny hatchling to a nestling just today!
April 13, 2023: HM takes a break. Adorable DH2 is home alone! https://youtu.be/Q1K9Jc0Aves. It’s a (fairly) warm day and HM has errands to run! She leaves the nest and we hear HD and HM vocalizing. The camera zooms in to give us a closeup of DH2, who is six days old. DH2’s thermal down hasn’t started emerging, but we get a nice look at the little eaglet’s left side beginning at about 2:34. It nibbles at some nesting materials at 4:56, appears to react to the sound of birds around it, and cuddles deeply into the egg cup as it waits for a parent’s return.
On April 12, HD delivered five fish and it seemed like most of them were forming a ring around the egg cup on the morning of April 13! Caching in birds is a little complicated, since it typically applies to storing food in remote locations: think of peregrine falcons caching prey on a ledge, or chickadees hiding seed. The behavior is commonly described in terms of long-term fall food storage, which makes sense – food can be quite scare during the winter, so it’s a good idea to have some stashed away. However, eagles, falcons, and some smaller songbirds also store away ‘convenience food’ for a quick and easy short-term meal.
Food scarcity is relative to local conditions. An eagle with hungry hatchlings might not be experiencing a food shortage, but if food isn’t at hand to feed her clamoring young, they might be. Keeping the pantree full assures that eaglets can be fed on demand and helps avoid stressors on growing bodies and feathers. While we refer to it as ‘lardering’ – another excellent description – I believe this behavior fits the definition of caching. More here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/where-is-that-bird-going-with-that-seed-its-caching-food-for-later/.
Left to right: HD, DH2, HM
April 11, 2023: Whole family on the nest. HM feeds DH2 – https://youtu.be/-spQq0dvV_I. HD is brooding on a warm, windy day. He gets up almost immediately – perhaps DH2 was poking him? – looks around, and begins moving nesting materials while DH2 does a tiny little warble in the nest before beak planting. HM arrives in the nest at 1:08 while DH2 screes behind her. She begins feeding DH2 while HD works on the nest: a lovely picture of eagle domestic life! Close-ups begin at about five minutes.
DH2 received six feedings on April 11: four by HM and two by HD – only the second and third times HD has ever fed! From size of bites to number of feedings to skill at loading DH2’s little beak, HD and HM have really improved their feeding skills.
Decorah North Nest
April 18, 2023: A Common Grackle is subleasing the North nest’s basement!
Mr. North and DNF could still reclutch, although their window to do so is closing. In the meantime, a Common Grackle has a nest in the DNN basement! We added goose cam last year. Will we be watching grackles at the North nest this year?
April 18, 2023: Announcing…grackle cam! https://youtu.be/BtahSgESk4I. Okay, not actually official. The North nest’s newest tenants are large and conspicuous blackbirds found in eastern North America that frequents open areas with scattered trees. Only females incubate, although both sexes feed (assuming the male doesn’t desert his mate during incubation). Young typically depart the nest at 12–15 days of age.
Grackles produce fecal sacs. I’m hoping to get a chance to write about them, since we’ve only seen poop shooting at the nests of altricial birds. It’s an interesting way to get rid of waste!
April 16, 2023: The newest basement tenant, a grackle, getting prepared for the snow – https://youtu.be/qrlxR_Hup0g. Exactly as the video describes!