We have your Fri-yay NestFlix! In Decorah, HM plays several visits to N1 and we pull out the Confusion Couch for another season of ‘As The Nest Turns’, while Mr. North and DNF have a date night by IR candlelight at the North Nest. Meanwhile, eagle ice skating has started on the Flyway (good thing they have built-in crampons) and was that an American Kestrel at our US Bank Peregrine Falcon nest box in La Crosse? It was!
I loved all of these videos, but I especially liked seeing HM at N1 (come to N1 – we have fish jerky!), Mr. North and DNF perched together on the Love Branch, a seemingly bewildered eagle on ice, and the aforementioned kestrel high atop a building in downtown La Crosse! Thanks to our awesome camera operators and videomakers for finding and sharing such special moments. I hope you enjoyed them as much as we did!
November 30, 2023: HM comes to N1, eats some fish jerky – https://youtu.be/1bOy_xTpInI?si=cMyCgG39gTk6TCjf. HM was the talk of the town (or at least our channels) when she brought a stick into N1, sampled the fish jerky, and moved nest materials around! Watch the whole video or go to 13:16 to see HM fly down from a high perch into the nest! We have a shorter clip here: https://youtu.be/1x9jlhnMZdA?si=gycoCBdkyCo0GfFu.
Do male or female eagles choose the nest location? We know that potential factors in nest-site selection include territorial status, mating status, habitat quality, changes to territory, and encroachment or disturbance on or near the nest. But is nest-site selection also linked to sex?
Birds of The World states that: “It is unclear which sex is responsible for nest-site and nest-tree selection. One female lost her mate twice and found a new mate each time, and on both occasions they returned to her territory, suggesting that females may select nest sites. Observations of females defending territories and attempting to attract mates has also been reported from Saskatchewan.” However, we have a lot more eagles to watch than we did in the 1980s, and a lot more people watching them. We’ve seen female eagles attract new males, male eagles attract new females, and a new pair of eagles building a relationship on an abandoned nest. Eagles leave territories, but they also build new nests within established territories. We don’t know why they sometimes change nest sites or territories, let alone who initiated the change and whether or not it is connected to sex-linked roles.
Birds of The World also discusses the change in relationship between nest-site selection/nest success and human development/activity. Some eagles are very tolerant of human activity and some are not. If one eagle is tolerant and one isn’t, who chooses where they nest? Is sex linked to a low tolerance for disturbance or the loss of a favorite perch tree, or is tolerance more connected to personal history and nesting experience? Eagles are individuals with rich, complex lives, and eagles as a whole appear to change over generations. We’ve seen HM near N1 much more than we’ve seen HD. But we still don’t know which of them decided to build a new nest, whether or not they’ll remain there, who will make the final location decision, and whether nest location decisions are linked to sex.
Decorah North Eagles
November 28, 2023: DNF and Mr. North home after sunset, roost in the Love Tree – https://youtu.be/Ohe4xM_xU44?si=J87aEr-mF4gxPKFV. I was chatting with everyone as the sun set at the North nest. I can’t tell you how lovely it was to watch the pink and gold sunset, the Norths working on their nest by IR candlelight, or the two of them perched together, side by side in the love tree.
November 29, 2023: Mallard has ice on his tail – https://youtu.be/B11RcPO0UVY?si=mv_Dq5a4_uqnucr2. Mallards are common enough here that I sometimes forget how beautiful they are. This vividly colored duck is stunning and has a little ice on its tail that the morning sun will soon melt away. Time to head south, everywaterbirdie!
November 28, 2023: Eagle walks on ice – https://youtu.be/jCbuq4lffiA?si=3yQRzGs-NLmqAQ8W. The eagle ice follies have begun! I especially enjoyed watching this young eagle explore the ice, briefly nibbling at it at :13 before peering down into it, sliding a little as it gingerly walks at :29, and spreading its wings – perhaps for balance? – at :33. It appears to be a two-year old and so must have seen ice before, but I picture it asking ‘What happened to the water and how do I get off this slippery stuff!?’
November 27, 2023: Dinner on the Mississippi Flyway – https://youtu.be/tVVfN578THw?si=R–Q0MgJSRMWHm1O. An adult eagle eats dinner on the photo log as sandhill cranes forage and call in the background. We get an especially good look at its strong feet, sharp black talons – look at that hallux claw! – and sharp, curved beak.
US Bank La Crosse Peregrine Falcons
December 1, 2023: A kestrel at the nestbox! https://www.youtube.com/live/JbXgikGkYqY?si=K6RZ0CtWcYiwrm3s. I wasn’t surprised to see resident female peregrine falcon ‘Karen’ here last week, since the resident falcons appear to winter in the city. But I was surprised to see this female kestrel! This nest box is on the US Bank building in the middle of downtown La Crosse and it seems entirely unsuitable for a grassland bird like the American Kestrel. I guess not, at least when it comes to passing through! You can watch that camera here, although the falcons won’t be active until some time in February: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/additional-falcon-cams/.
Are American Kestrels common in La Crosse during the winter? I decided to check eBird and they were much more common than I thought, although there still weren’t many sightings in downtown La Crosse! American Kestrel sightings were more tightly clustered around greater La Crosse and La Crescent during the winter than they were in the southern months.