May 2, 2023: NestFlix and News from Decorah and Decorah North!

We have your nestflix! In Decorah, DH2 explores self-feeding and shows us its tiny popping pinfeathers, HD makes a difficult fish delivery, and HM starts a rousing game of limbo with the very wonky stick. DH2 is getting big and it’s time to raise the crib rails! At Decorah North, we see some really interesting grackle behavior. Even if you don’t watch the whole video, I absolutely recommend checking out the song spread – it made me think of courting birds of paradise, right here in Iowa.

Thanks to our camera operators and video makers for finding and sharing such special moments, and to you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring! We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did!

Decorah Eagles
May 1, 2023: DH2's fish pillow - a tasty white sucker.

May 1, 2023: DH2’s fish pillow

May 1, 2023: DH2 feeds itself a few small bites of fish DH2 cuddles with a suckerfish. It makes a good pillow, but what would happen if I tried to eat it instead? Ever-hungry DH2 begins picking at the fish, probing and tearing with its beak to remove tiny morsels of flesh. At 2:53, the eaglet nibbles on the fins. They might taste and feel intriguing, but they aren’t easy to eat! It goes back to nibbling at the fish before settling down for another nap in the comfortable nest.

This is the first self-feeding attempt we’ve seen. DH2 isn’t yet ready to zip open its own fish, but nibbling and exploration are both important to acquiring self-feeding skills. Go DH2!

May 1, 2023: DH2 and HM.

May 1, 2023: DH2 and HM

May 1, 2023: Gusty winds make tricky landings, but fish delivered Watch out below! HD tries to deliver a fish, but his flying fishwagon goes a little off course in the high wind. HM isn’t excited about his landing – she isn’t a landing pad, for Pete’s sake! – but DH2 has breakfish and a new fishy pillow! Watch at 1:23 to see HD’s delivery.

April 29, 2023: DH2’s pinfeathers & HD brings a fish for later We have been waiting for DH2’s popping pinfeathers! At .09. the camera operator zooms in and we see DH2’s pinfeathers just beginning to emerge from their keratin sheaths. Are they even a centimeter long? The camera operator begins looking for more pinfeathers and gives us a wonderful tour of DH2’s back and wings before HD delivers a fish.

May 2, 2023: DH2's emerging pinfeathers

May 2, 2023: DH2’s emerging pinfeathers

Neoptile down, mesoptile down, mesoptile pennaplumae, and emerging juvenile plumage can all be seen on an eaglet between its third and fifth week of life. To learn more about natal down, thermal down, and juvenile feathers, follow this link:

April 28, 2023: HM brings a very wonky stick Time to raise the crib rails! HM flies in with a large, wonky stick at 2:46, nearly knocking HD over as she lands! HD stumbles and steps on DH2, who recovers just in time for an impromptu limbo as HM and HD drag the stick across the nest! HD untangles himself from the sticky jungle gym at 4:21 and flies out. HM takes over stick placement and the camera switches to an overhead view at about the sixth minute, giving us a nice look at the rails and DH2’s prowess at shooting poop! HM moves the stick all around and finally gets it in place at 9:15. Sometimes furniture is hard to place…

Decorah North
April 27, 2023: A grackle at the North nest.

April 27, 2023: A grackle at the North nest

April 29, 2023: Interesting behavior. Aggression? Impressing the lady? The female grackle is on her nest. At least four other grackles are present, all of them presenting st one another. What is happening?

The males are giving a song spread or ruff-out squeak. While blackbirds spread as part of courtship, males also spread to compete with and warn one another, which is what I believe is happening here. It makes me think of the peregrine falcon’s chup, which is usually given to mates and children, but can be given antagonistically to nest invaders. Some behaviors, songs, and vocalizations are specific, but many birds re-purpose vocalizations or parts of vocalizations depending on the context. This song was just a little different than the courting songs I found on youtube and the Macaulay Library, which would fit with the idea of a courting behavior repurposed for antagonistic purposes.

May 1, 2023: A grackle nesting inside the North nest.

May 1, 2023: A grackle nesting inside the North nest

April 27, 2023: Grackle adds nesting and scrapes her nest Exactly what the title says! Females build a cup nest from woody stems, leaves, and fine grasses, although they might also incorporate paper, string, fishing line, cloth, corn husks, bark, moss, feathers, manure, tape, and wire may be incorporated. Once the cup is done, the female lines it with mud and upholsters it with fine grasses, horsehair, or fur.

Birds of the World tells us that male grackles sometimes help with construction and nest repair. BOW also mentions that grackles often build nests that don’t receive eggs and suggests that those nests are built by males. We’ve had pretty consistent nest building activity here, so we’re hopeful she will lay eggs, but I’m still looking forward to seeing her finish the nest!