Happy Monday after Thanksgiving weekend! Pull out the leftovers, put up your feet, and enjoy the NestFlix! I loved all of these, but I especially enjoyed seeing HM on a branch in the N1 tree, a subadult eagle enjoying the fish jerky in N1, nest material filching at the North nest (the thief surprised me!), and the cooperative eagle hunting in ‘Eagles trying to catch a duck’. Spoiler alert – the duck escapes, but it is pretty interesting watching. I’ve never seen an eagle dive quite like that!
If you can, please make a donation tomorrow on Giving Tuesday (or any day) to support our research and keep our cameras streaming. Any donation in any amount will help! Our volunteers are celebrating with chats on the Decorah Eagle page from 10am to 2pm; the Mississippi Flyway from 2pm to 4pm, and the North Nest from 8am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm. Amy and John will discuss eagles, falcons, and all things RRP via a video discussion beginning at 1pm on the Decorah Eagles page. Join the chat and we’ll answer some of your questions!
November 25, 2023: HM on a branch in the N1 tree – https://youtu.be/xt7-3LmZhuw?si=ocNVjAZnjmL-nHXw. C’mon, HD and HM – this is a much better location than the tree you are building in now! It’s wonderful to see HM so close again. Cross your talons and dream…especially since she was also seen near N1 yesterday: https://youtu.be/dRgnuZ5dVDw?si=sY0Qxf5OAX6GhcgD.
November 23, 2023: Fish jerky for Thanksgiving! – https://youtu.be/m8GBs4T0BwA. At least somebirdy appreciated the spread we set back in September! A subadult eagle stops by N1, feasts on fish jerky, and checks out the digs.
We’re seeing migrating and interloping eagles all over, including a very persistent new adult at the North nest. Eagles and eagle nests attract eagles and bald eagles will sometimes tolerate interlopers depending on the time of year, attitude, and distance from the nest. We’re glad this subadult got some easy pickings as it winged its way south and it was nice to see an eagle on N1, even if it wasn’t HD or HM. Good luck, migrators! We’ll see you next spring.
Decorah North Eagles
November 25, 2023: Visitor at DN nest decides to do a little redecorating – https://youtu.be/RCT6TkDjWNI?si=pFWLFKGDns-K1XZx. A young adult eagle visits the North nest and does a little rearranging of nest materials before hop-flapping up to perch and preen on a perch to the side of the ladder branch.
November 24, 2023: Pileated Woodpecker finds a meal – https://youtu.be/Js4ftC5MTfw?si=5xAp1ikEQOTXQFad. This video has wonderful closeups of a resplendent Pileated Woodpecker finding a meal – almost certainly insects! – in a hole in an oak tree. The video opens with the woodpecker hammering in what appears to be an existing hole. After a little hard work, it begins to delicately nibble and probe with its bill and long tongue to sweep them from the hole and into its mouth. Close-ups begin at 1:03.
November 23, 2023: Home invasion! They stole the carpet! https://youtu.be/9U6gIfBcxmo?si=3kL8hx5tv5DFJbw4. Is this the same eagle we saw rearranging things on November 25th? And where is going with the nesting material? We’ve seen squirrels and small birds filch nesting material, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen a bald eagle do it! I wonder what the Norths thought when they came home and what the invader did with the nest material it stole.
November 27, 2023: Semi-still life: Bald eagle with Sandhill Cranes – https://youtu.be/dXLHMz5mzAs. Ice is forming on the Mississippi River just north of La Crosse and the last migrators are heading south! A subadult eagle pauses to perch on the photo snag while sandhill cranes forage behind it. The eagle may stay a few more days – it’s almost time for eagle ice follies! – but sandhill cranes at this latitude are all migratory, since they can’t access food once it’s buried beneath snow, ice, and rock-hard frozen ground. We love seeing the last of the last migrants come through, although we’ll miss them once they’re gone.
November 26, 2023: Eagles like sticks! – https://youtu.be/w-X0FfuFbjU?si=PjvgkTMj7CQHZYP6. A subadult eagle plays with a stick on snow-covered ice. It hops around with it, transfers it from its talons to its beak, and generally has a good time before its attention is captured by something else!
November 25, 2023: Eagles trying to catch a duck – https://youtu.be/yJNhh4Y3k3c?si=p82En_Xbq-oE35Mh. This video captures group-hunting by several bald eagles trying to catch a common goldeneye duck. Watch the whole video or skip ahead to 21 seconds to see them hunt!
The hunting portion opens with at least three eagles scattering a group of ducks. At 48 seconds, we see that one of them has become separated from the larger group. The eagles begin harassing it, with one plunging deeply into the water at 1:07 to capture it. Check it out – I’ve seen eagles dive before, but this one plunged into the water like an osprey! The duck escapes its grasp and the eagles keep harrassing it, driving underwater and diving at it when it emerges for air. Slow the speed at 1:35 to watch them wheel and dive, and to see a subadult fly by at close range!
The ducks lift into the air at 2:01, followed by an eagle who appears to have been floating duck-like on the water. One eagle perches on a reed that looks too slender to hold its weight, while others continue pursuing the duck. Look for duck close-ups beginning at 2:34. Luckily for the duck, it escapes!
While some websites state that Harris Hawks are the only raptors that hunt communally, social hunting – sometimes in mated pairs, and sometimes including unpaired birds, depending on the species – has also been documented in Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Striated Caracaras, Red-tailed Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Lanner Falcons, Aplomado Falcons, Philippine Eagles, and Verreaux’s Eagles. Group foraging – a group response to high concentrations of prey, with individual raptors benefiting little or not at all from the presence of other participants – has been documented in Ospreys, American Swallowtailed Kites, Mississippi Kites, and Swainson’s Hawks. Falconry itself could be considered a form of pair hunting. We’ll be blogging about this in the future!
November 22, 2023: Eagles discuss and disagree on the fallen tree – https://youtu.be/WU774Law75Q?si=8lyaiHFRnvfQ_PZi. Listen up, kids! And get off my perch!