April 20, 2023: Amazing HD!

Rain and hail made it a long morning for HD, who spent most of it protecting DH2 from the weather. His rain-soaked feathers were glossy and slicked with water but – like another wonderful eagle Dad who nested here – he continued his watch. I am in awe as our eagles once again show us what they will endure to protect their offspring. Eagles are incredible!

Decorah Eagles

April 20, 2023: HD spectacular wind-complicated landing, beautiful fly-off from Yhttps://youtu.be/ga98B8HcZWw. The tree is rocking and rolling in the wind. Slow the feed down at six seconds to see HD’s spectacular wind-complicated landing. He flies in over HM and appears to hover, a fish firmly grasped in his talons, before getting a toe-hold on the Y-branch and launching down into the nest. HM gives a few screes but doesn’t appear especially interested in the fish, so HD eagles it down himself! After this morning, I think he deserves it!

April 20, 2023: When you gotta go, you gotta go, but HD takes it in stride!https://youtu.be/PkRJZhaAkro.

April 20, 2023: Where are the wet wipes? HD gets a beakful of poop!

April 20, 2023: Where are the wet wipes? HD gets a beakful of poop!

After a long and difficult morning of brooding, DH2 honors HD with a PS! Where did I put those wet wipes? At least it’s not slashing cold rain or hail.

April 20, 2023: A Dad’s Devotionhttps://youtu.be/qnmKV8oakww. This video shows how hard eagle parents work to protect their young. A cold rain is slashing down and soaking everything. HD spreads his wings wide and covers the floor of the nest, doing his best to keep DH2 dry. Watch the whole video or go to 21 minutes. His wings are glossy with the rain and he appears to be shivering or trembling, but he holds fast and keeps his eaglet safe.

Eagles have roughly 7,000 feathers to keep them warm and dry, but HD was soaked through to the skin. Why was he shivering? Shivering twitches or shakes large muscles very rapidly – a high-intensity action that converts muscular energy into heat. That energy needs to be quickly replenished, which might be why HD sucked down a big gulp protein smoothie – aka a trout – so quickly this afternoon. We were happy when the rain finally let up and even happier to see him dry off later on.

More on feathers and weather here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2023/03/01/like-water-off-an-eagles-back/.

April 20, 2023: HD brooded through rain, snow, and graupel today, keeping DH2 safe and warm beneath him.

April 20, 2023: HD brooded through rain, snow, and graupel, keeping DH2 safe and warm beneath him.

April 20, 2023: HD is stoic during a little hail stormhttps://youtu.be/olrQ4GbePYw. Hail – even small hail – really stings! Small pieces are falling around and occasionally on him, but he doesn’t give up. Amazing.

April 19, 2023: HM delivers sticks, but HD won’t share his rodenthttps://youtu.be/jxnie8zvsy0.

April 20, 2023: Maybe a rodent is too small to share? HM wants HD's rodent, but he isn't interested in sharing!

April 19, 2023: Maybe a rodent is too small to share? HM wants HD’s rodent, but he doesn’t want to share.

Do eagles eat mice? They do! HM flies in with a lovely stick at 13 seconds and begins moving it around, poking HD in the head! She quickly notices his mouse and expresses interest, wheedling, pleaing, and erecting her feathers to make her interest clear. Instead of stepping aside, he erects his own feathers and mantles over the mouse, pecking at her as she tries to move in. HD is not interested in sharing!

Decorah Geese

April 20, 2023: Mother Goose deals with intruderhttps://youtu.be/Yh2YwoGmyTw. As several of you have reminded me and Mother Goose has repeatedly shown us, geese are nothing to mess with! She’s clearly alarmed and tracking something at the beginning of the video. At 12 seconds, she starts hissing. At 14 seconds, another goose tries to enter the nest. She lunges forward and bites it before chasing it out of the nest.

Why are so many geese attempting to enter the nest? Geese lay eggs in nests other than their own, so we might be seeing attempts at nest parasitism. Although these geese aren’t a direct threat to her eggs – they won’t eat them or deliberately destroy them – nesting geese are highly territorial and MG’s excellent nest defense helps assure that all of her hatchlings are hers. It’s been a lengthy four weeks, but she shouldn’t have to wait for hatch much longer.

I’m fascinated by this behavior in the Decorah nest, since goslings that hatched after parents and young left would most likely die. Perhaps it works better in a semi-colonial ground nesting situation where goslings can hatch, scurry a short distance to the water, and join a creche.