It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas now that snow has fallen and ice is sealing over the Flyway! In Decorah, HM raises our hopes by continuing to perch near N1 and HD shows off his expert fishing technique! Meanwhile, Mr. North has venison for lunch, an eagle couple’s nestwork is never done, and a red-tailed hawk eats a squirrel and gives us a lesson in field marks. Don’t miss a beautiful subadult eagle and a Where’s Waldo puzzle with a bald eagle and sandhill cranes!
Thank you so much for everything you do: for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring! We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did!
December 5, 2023: HM on the Y and on tree by the road. HD on bluff tree – https://youtu.be/QD7EPROEtz4?si=U1ZDjmUVhvn8K5Cv. Wonderful vivid close-ups of HM against a backdrop of green and brown. The whole video is lovely, but I especially enjoyed seeing her against the backdrop of the barn and hill beginning at 18:28 – a classic view that never gets old, although it has changed since 2011! Look for a cool fly-out at 30:21 as HM moves to the spooky tree across the pasture.
December 3, 2023: HM perches near N1, HD does flyby’s and perches in a nearby tree – https://youtu.be/kkYBe2AnV30?si=hR_CuZRr4wE961Bz. This video opens with a lovely shot of thickly falling snow. Happy Holidays, everyone! At 18 seconds, we see HM perched near N1, all fluffed up in her winter down jacket. She vocalizes as she surveys her realm, beautiful against the white snow, brown branches, and misty hills. At 26:29, we see HM perched in a nearby tree. You know, eagles, it isn’t too late to come back!
December 2, 2023: HD catches late lunch in the pond – https://youtu.be/cC9FgPI_nSY?si=sfYk9OBDIEG6Ld2b. Start the video at seven seconds for a nice look at HD’s fishing techniques! He flies in from the left, alternately soaring and flapping, and circles around to the right, still high in the air. He winds around and down, dropping as he goes, and makes a shallow swoop into the retaining pond at 28 seconds. He doesn’t lose much forward momentum, but still struggles to lift the fish: note how he flaps hard, rises steeply at 33 seconds, and falls a little bit before transitioning to a smoother flight and gaining the top of the cottonwood tree. Enjoy your hard-earned lunch, HM!
December 5, 2023: Fluffy white lunch at Decorah North – https://youtu.be/fp01PP1awdk?si=27kZyS2I2b7YdMTt. Mr. North lands in the nest with a fluffy white deer part while two eagles chase one another past the nest and the neighborhood crow watch sounds the alarm! Perhaps DNF is on guard duty? Closeups start at 1:11 with Mr. North’s long, strong toes grasping the deer tightly. He begins carving dinner up at 1:32, stripping away long white fur to get at the flesh beneath it. He spends the rest of the video eating lunch. When he finally finishes, the bottom of the nest is carpeted with fur! He swallows the entire pelt at 4:06 into this video: https://youtu.be/Ii95PT5MpOI?si=-PK5s9hyQGExyt-G.
December 3, 2023: Beautiful red-tailed hawk eats dinner on cam – https://youtu.be/V3HZhWccfl4?si=mjsZeY7vcIRD5YoG. Exactly as the title says: a stunning red-tailed hawk eats a squirrel, safely concealed from bald eagles in a maze of tangled oak branches. I loved the colors and textures of this video: the hawk’s vivid red tail, striped with black on the bottom; the soft green moss, blue lichen, and rough grey bark; the wary hawk’s brown and white plumage and dark eye.
When we band hawks and other raptors, we need to sex and age them despite having no life history whatsoever. The deep red tail and dark eye marks this hawk as an adult and we could sex it by size and tarsus thickness if we had it in hand. We also see two good field marks for identifying the species: the hawk’s white scapular (shoulder) V throughout the first part of the video (but check 8:05 for a very nice example), and a nice belly band of dark feathers at 11:16. Specific plumage traits can help ID a bird, but it’s helpful to have multiple field marks and a good understanding of the bird’s general shape, size, and behavior for field ID.
December 1, 2023: Mr North & DNF, porządki w gnieździe (Mr. North and DNF cleaning up the nest) – https://youtu.be/5mGh1kLWxiI?si=POfh8uQM9TspNuWC. Close-ups of both begin after a beautiful fly-in by DNF beginning at 48 seconds. The two disagree on stick placement, with Mr. North winning the tug-o-war at 1:16. Where does the stick go? Here! Or maybe here? He finally slides the wonky branch on to another stick, locking it into place, and joins DNF in moving sticks and husks. The nursery needs to be just right! The two continue their nest chores side by side, with nice close ups at 3:07 and 6:15, a pause to stop, look, and listen following alert calls from neighborhood jays and crows at 5:55, and a nice far-away view of the nest at 10:26.
December 5, 2023: Shouty juvenile eagle! https://youtu.be/idSwrmMVW5A?si=XaFdxndQ_lq0wxhb. I love the striking patterns and colors of two to four year old eagles! Listen to the vocalization, which starts at 1:15. It’s quite high and sounds somewhat like a cross between in-nest ‘baby talk’ and the vocalization of adult eagles – teenage eaglese, if you will! More vocals follow at 2:14 and we hear mallard ducks and Canada geese throughout. Look for a cool flyout at 2:47!
Odds and Ends
Mississippi River gets little reverence, protection: https://www.pressreader.com/usa/argus-leader/20231204/281900187976668. Moderator Bob1603 shared this very cool article on the Mississippi River. The article is absolutely right: despite the river’s status (3rd longest in the world), importance to wildlife (central USA’s biggest Flyway and critical habitat for species’ who’s homes have been plowed under or polluted out of existence), and importance to us (drinking water and transport), the river gets very little love. But people are working to change that!
Our amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/raptorresource. Shop here to help RRP! None of our books and birding picks are sponsored and it all comes personally recommended by myself, John, or board, and/or our moderators. We’ll be adding more and we’re also working on calendars and ornaments!