When will the eagles lay eggs? When will falcons come back? Check out our quick and easy schedule below or read on to get the details! Want to help us log spring migrants on the Flyway? Share your sightings on our Facebook page, Instagram, or explore.org’s snapshot gallery. Please @raptorresource on Facebook and Instagram, and tag with #springmigration2024 on all platforms. You can also email photos and sightings to [email protected]. Remember to include the date!
|February 19th or earlier
|Decorah Eagles: HM/HD
|February 25th or earlier
|March 21st or earlier
|Xcel Fort St. Vrain
|March 2nd or earlier
|Great Spirit Bluff
|February 15th or earlier
Female eagles tend to lay a little earlier in warm, humid weather and a little later in cold, dry weather. As egg-laying draws closer, we’ll see more bonding and more grass deliveries. Eagle pairs will dig, scrape, and mold multiple layers of soft stuff to the nest’s floor, testing and fine-tuning the fit to make sure the nest is ready for eggs. Gravid females will bloat with reserved water (sound familiar?) and curtail their activity, so look for them to hang the nest a little more two or three days before egg-laying starts.
Decorah North Eagles: Average first egg date – February 19
On average, DNF lays her first egg on February 19. She could lay a little earlier in 2024 if February stays warm and humid, since warm, humid weather makes it easier for female eagles to build the water reserves they need to lay eggs. Look for increased copulation and more time in the nest two to three days before laying.
We’re expecting DNF to lay her first egg on or before February 19. Watch here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/decorah-north-nest/.
Decorah Eagles: Average first egg date – It’s complicated!
HD and HM: We have just one year of data on HD and HM. HM laid egg #1 on February 25 last year, but she could lay earlier this year. We can’t watch their nest on camera, but we plan to collect data on incubation, hatch, number of nestlings, and fledge. We’re expecting HM to lay her first egg on or before February 25.
Mom and DM2: Thanks to boots-on-the-ground Dave Kester, we know that a pair of eagles are working on the nest and pair bond perching. From Dave’s Decorah Diaries on January 28: “One of the eagles was there [at nest N4] for over an hour. The second was there for about 50 minutes. The nest has clearly been worked on and this behavior looked like ‘pair bond perching’ to me”. We suspect that at least one of them is either Mom or DM2, but don’t know that for sure.
What does Mom/DM2’s chronology look like? In 2020, the last year we were able to watch them on camera, Mom laid her first egg on February 26th. Mom and DM2 were successful in 2021, but we think they failed in 2022 and 2023, although we don’t know why. We’ll see what happens this year and whether we can positively ID them as Mom and DM2.
We only have two years of data on the geese and we don’t whether the same two individuals nested there both years, which makes egg-laying very hard to predict. Last year, Mother Goose laid egg #1 on March 21. We’ll see what happens this year, especially given the number of geese that have been hanging around. Could we have two goose cams this year? Watch here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/decorah-goose-cam/.
Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrain Eagles: Average first egg date – March 3 (Ma and Pa Jr.)
Since accepting her new mate Pa Jr. in 2021, Ma FSV’s laying cycle moved from mid-February to early March. While we weren’t surprised the first year – egg-timing often moves later when one mate replaces another in a bonded territorial pair – we were surprised when she continued to lay later in 2022 and 2023. Look for increased copulation and more time in the nest two to three days before laying.
We’re expecting Ma FSV to lay her first egg on or before March 2! Watch here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/xcel-energy-cams/. Nest location: Platteville, CO.
Great Spirit Bluff: Average first falcon arrival – February 18
Territorial male falcons usually arrive a few days to a week earlier than territorial female falcons, followed by non-territorial males and females. Newman won’t be quiet when he arrives – listed for wailing and look for tail-wagging flights as he announces his availability to female falcons migrating north!
When will Newman come back? It’s been a strange year weatherwise and we’re starting to see non-migratory peregrine falcons at some of our nest boxes. But as far as we know, Newman is migratory and doesn’t usually show up until mid-February. He could surprise us with an early arrival, but we expect him around February 15. We may see some local falcons in the meantime, so get band numbers and colors if you can! Watch here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/gsb-falcons/.
Mississippi Flyway: Ice Out
The winter of 2023/2024 has been a weird one! The Mississippi didn’t freeze over at Lake Onalaska until early January, and it is thawing as I write this on January 29. If the water stays open, will non-tropical migrants come back early? We’ll see! Waterfowl, Bald Eagles, and Sandhill Cranes have typically arrived in great numbers in early March, often before the lake has completely thawed. We’ll see how early they arrive this year.
Keep watching and share your sightings on our Facebook page, Instagram, or explore.org’s snapshot gallery. Please @raptorresource and tag with #springmigration2024 so we see it!