Happy Fri-Yay, everyone! We have news and NestFlix from Decorah, Decorah North, and the Flyway! I loved all of these videos, but I especially enjoyed seeing DNF working on the North nest and watching and listening to duetting eagles on the Flyway. Thanks so much to our dedicated camera operators and videomakers for bringing us such amazing sights and sounds, and to you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring. Rock on, everybirdie!
January 11, 2024: North Nest preparing! She brings straw and testing the nest – https://youtu.be/aCDTVHJ62Yo?si=O-hwNGcMpEZ3qL-G. Tick tock egg clock! DNF doesn’t mark a calendar, but she knows that the North nest needs to be ready for egglets and eaglets! At 26 seconds, we see a closeup of her in the nest with a large clump of soft, dry grass. She lays down at about 1:23 and begins scraping, churning her powerful legs to remove snow and create a depression. She settles down for a nice long fit test before getting up at 4:57. Her snow eagle angel is clearly larger than it was! We get nice close-ups of her face and head beginning at 5:36. It looks like she had a delicious but messy lunch, since prey remains are clinging to her head feathers and beak.
How does DNF know when to start working on her nest? Biological clock functions control a bird’s daily and seasonal patterns, including reproduction, song, migration, feeding, nesting, and dispersal. Their lives are regulated by a chorus of clocks that entrain their internal physiology and behavior to external cues like daylight length and intensity.
In early January, increasing daylight length and intensity drive gonadal swelling in northern birds. Their response depends on their age, experience, and social and nesting status. DNF and Mr. North, two mated non-migratory bald eagles, become more interested in copulating and nest upkeep: instinctive behaviors that arise from their biological clocks, although they are refined by experience and learning. Perhaps these clocks can help sort out the fuzzy boundaries around instinct and reflexes, since reflexive behaviors are immediate responses that don’t rely on internal clocks! We’ve got more on circannual daylight clocks here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2022/10/28/getting-ready-fall-nestorations/ and on instinct, learning, and reflex here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2023/12/06/2023-rrp-highlights-shelter-from-the-storm/.
January 10, 2024: HD & HM-Beautiful Eagle Couple-Sub Adult Visitor – https://youtu.be/7Z3UCdJcILo?si=xuCsKUKLJ3ML5SU_. We first see the visitor around 26 seconds. I love its wonderfully varied plumage and patterns. If you didn’t understand eagle plumage stages, you might think this was a completely different bird! Learn more about plumage stages here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2023/03/15/march-15-2023-iding-eagles-at-a-bald-eagle-palooza-on-the-mississippi-river-flyway/.
January 10, 2024: Eagle pair on the fallen tree – https://youtu.be/AHthjD4Acm0?si=GETVONbvEaTjshYf. The eagles are beautiful, but I especially enjoyed their duetting – particularly since there aren’t any external reasons for them to duet – i.e. other eagles – that we can see. This is eagle song: a bonding activity that, like copulation and nest building, helps strengthen pair bonds. I also enjoyed the end of this video! Go to 11:32 and you’ll see the male fly off the perch and into the water, where he appears to be hunting. The female soon joins him and the two wade together! More on eagle song here: https://www.raptorresource.org/2022/12/09/eagle-vocalizations-hd-hm-and-morning-song/.
Odds and Ends
How clean is the Mississippi River? Report finds signs of improvement and emerging threats: https://www.nola.com/news/environment/how-clean-is-the-upper-mississippi-river-new-report-finds-signs-of-improvement-and-emerging/article_0740d5d2-af34-11ee-bc53-17f65625bd80.html. We’ll publish an ads-free version of this on our website. I was really impressed the improving sediment loads, but chloride and lead are increasing in some areas, and more reporting is needed to cover data gaps. As a river group used to say, not everyone can live downstream.
Did I mention that it’s Friday? This song was huge back in 2011 – the same year that the Decorah Eagles first took the world by storm. Got to get down on Friday! https://youtu.be/kfVsfOSbJY0?si=j5QH7Ql_dTA9vY-X.