The early bird catches the NestFlix! In Decorah, a red-tailed hawk jump scares a bald eagle, while Mr. North shows off his carving skills and general eagle handsomeness at the North nest. On the Flyway, bald eagles and tundra swans are gathering in great numbers as late holdouts flee the northland just ahead of winter’s bite. It’s beautiful now, but next week could bring snow to the Flyway and Decorah, so watch for eagle pool parties at the North nest and eagles on ice on the Flyway!
Thanks so much to our camera operators and video makers for finding such special moments, and to all of you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring. You rock!
November 11, 2023: Fun interaction, SA bald eagle and brave red tailed hawk – https://youtu.be/70k0zbhsuIg?si=28he7oZJLq4bTZvV. What are you lookin’ at? We see a lot of interesting things on our cams, but this one surprised me! An adult red-tailed hawk flies in at 5:18 and perches next to a subadult eagle. The eagle seems wary of the hawk, who mostly seems to ignore it. But at 6:44, the hawk suddenly charges across the log and confronts the eagle. They raise wings at one another, but the eagle quickly adopts a pose that looks submissive, bowing its head and drooping as if to make it clear that no challenges will be forthcoming. At 8:49, the hawk jumps up, tries to foot the eagle – who responds likewise! – and flies away. The eagle flies out at 9:20.
If you missed Robin’s report on HM, HD, Mom, and DM2, read it here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2023/11/12/november-4-2023-day-trip-to-decorah/
Decorah North Eagles
November 10, 2023: Mr. North defurs and eats a snack, guessing deer tail and “parts” – https://youtu.be/dOViljzsCyA?si=LiSTHkl80HOn2XkU. Exactly as the title says! We get a wonderful look at Mr. North using his beak and skilled carving techniques to remove fur and separate flesh. I was especially amazed by the eighth and nineth minutes. I know that eagle beaks are sensitive, but how can such a big beak remove such tiny pieces of fur?
More on sensitive eagle beaks here: https://www.raptorresource.org/…/bald-eagle-tongues…/
November 10, 2023: Juvie visitor, Mr & DNF at the nest – https://youtu.be/_Dv9JkUwAXY?si=bhuEMl5UyH9q2PA6. The video opens with a long shot of one of the Norths across the field. At 3:27, we see Mr. North on the North nest. The camera operator gives us spectacular looks at his face beginning at 5:04. At 8:53, DNF flies in to the nest and the two work together, moving soft grasses and digging into the substrate. The video concludes with DNF flying out.
November 13, 2023: Eagle puts grass above and to the side of camera – https://youtu.be/pLMg6CPERNM?si=IX8cP46BI-63mjJw. Watch the whole video or go to 59 seconds to watch a subadult eagle fly in with grasses, hotly pursued by another subadult. Playing house is fun – although we might need to go out and take the grass off the camera, especially if more eagles join in!
November 12, 2023: Wilson’s Snipe, Sandhill Cranes & young Eagles – https://youtu.be/Vjm1ahbX58Y?si=CqEKkYBFsqwtwch6. Exactly as the video title says! I enjoyed the whole video, but I especially liked the close-up of the snipe beginning at 49 seconds!
November 8, 2023: Eagles of all ages – https://youtu.be/f-f4P1qzNZ4?si=kgCK7vUc7OYA4jUx. This video opens with a really lovely close-up study of a subadult eagle, followed by a look at two adults and a mixed-age group on the snag. Practice your eagle-aging skills and plumage knowledge by guessing everybirdy’s age!
Bald eagle families aren’t known to migrate together, but they certainly congregate in large mixed-age groups that give younger eagles a chance to learn (and steal!) from older eagles. I would love to know if some eagle families migrate together, especially since general eagle behavior reminds me of waterfowl (territorial on breeding grounds, social off them, gather in large mixed age groups to stage and migrate). Sadly, adult BE are notoriously hard to catch and the adult eagles at both Decorah nests don’t migrate. We’ll watch for studies on this!
November 7, 2023: One huge fish and many eagles – https://youtu.be/DE8C3Nxl6O4?si=mg_ittzn1pBGpMbG. The video opens with a mixed-age group of 16 eagles standing around a juvenile who is defending a large fish! They initially seem content to wait, but at 5:31, the first attempt at a steal begins! The camera operator moves in in the sixth minute and more eagles come close in the seventh minute, although they appear more interested in snatching a quick bite versus taking the entire fish. At 14:14, a flying eagle knocks the juvenile over and an adult eagle moves in! But the juvenile quickly runs in to chase the adult away and take back control of the fish. At 20:31, an adult flies in, knocks the juvenile off the fish. The two fight and the juvenile ends up upside down in the water. It hops away and more eagles move in for a chance at the fish, which changes talons several times before the video concludes.
Odds and Ends
Birds’ nests express their unique style and past experiences, study finds: https://phys.org/news/2023-11-birds-unique-style.html. This article made me think of our eagles! It makes any number of interesting points, but I especially liked learning that experienced birds had a more consistent style and used less material when compared to inexperienced birds. Perhaps HM and HD’s constant nest building in the summer of 2022 was the result of inexperience and practice, which allows them to develop motor skills, better manipulate materials, and learn from their mistakes.
Seven delightful stories of animals that live or work in museums: https://news.artnet.com/art…/best-museum-animals-1897163. Not sure why this popped up now, since it’s from 2020, but it is delightful!