Presenting: The Diction-Aerie!

Looking to brush up on your Eagle-ese? Look no further! As hard as it is to believe now, the Decorah Eagles were one of just a few live bald eagle cams on the world wide web back in 2011. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world took great joy in watching eagles and meeting others like themselves. Seemingly overnight, communities of like-minded people bonded around the Decorah eagles and became close friends.

These new-found communities needed a way to learn and talk about the eagles. RRP Facebook mod Sherri Elliott began writing a series of punny but highly educational Facebook posts that came to be called Whattas, short for ‘What a Day’. Fans loved them and enthusiastically began creating their own puns and euphemisms for nest activity. The Diction-Aerie grew out of Sherri’s hard work and the wonderfully fertile soil of our shared imaginations. Anthropomorphic? At least a little bit. But the eagles filled a need that many watchers didn’t know they had, and they paid it forward by doing what they could to support conservation in their yards, neighborhoods, and home towns. I’d like to think that our fun was a big part of that!

We published this updated Diction-Aerie to honor our eleventh year of watching eagles. Thanks to your support, we’ve changed and grown, but we’ve tried our best to keep things fun! With Eggstraordinary Graditude to everyone who contributed to our eggspanding vocabulary of Eagle-ese/Eaglish we proudly present the Decorah Eagles Diction-Aerie for you to print out, mantle over, and devour. Eagle on, everybody!

A  and B Words
  • Airobics: Extending your wings and catching a bit of air!
  • Babylets: Related to bobbleheads – the fuzzball stage of baby eaglets | ba·​by·​lets
  • Balloon Mantle: A mantle that appears balloon-like – a puffball of feathers! | bal·​loon man·​tle
  • Bantle: A babylet mantle | ban·​tle
  • Beak-A-Boo: When all I can see is your beak! | beak·​a·​boo
  • Beak Bonk: Kids! Stop hitting one another with your beaks! | beak bonk
  • Beak Geeks, aka Bird Nerds: People who avidly watch the eagles everyday! | beak·​geeks
  • Beak Kisses: Gentle beaky nibbles and kisses | beak kiss·es
  • Beak Lips: The ‘soft’ part of the beak that extends from the side of an eagle’s beak to the corner of its mouth | beak·​lips
  • Beak Off: An eaglet beak joust. Keep it friendly, kids! | beak·​off
  • Beakering: Human siblings bicker and eaglet siblings beaker. Either way, it’s all about sibling disagreements! | bea·​ker·​ing
  • Beakathon: A three-way beak contest of power | beak·​a·​thon
  • Beakdown: A beak off or beakathon that results in a sibling takedown | beak·​down
  • Bedreagled Eaglets: Related to moist fowlettes – an eaglet after bad weather | bed·​reagl·​ed eag·​lets
  • Benihana Dad, aka Bunnihana Dad: Dad’s slice-and-dice skills rivaled those of the finest human chefs, but Benihana and Bunnihana can be applied to any parent food prep | Ben·​i·​ha·​na and Bun·​ni·​ha·​na
  • Big Gulp Protein Smoothies: That eaglet was so hungry, it swallowed a whole fish in one go! | big gulp pro·​tein smooth·​ies
    Bling: Flashy eagle jewelry, especially on or near an eagle’s beak or head | bling
  • Bobblehead: Oh for cute!  An adorable eaglet dressed in fuzzy white natal down | bob·​ble·​head
  • Branch Office: Parents spend most of their time in the Branch Office after adorable bobbleheads turn into mobile, busy, and always ravenous Tweaglestwea·​gles
  • Breakfish: Who wouldn’t want fish for breakfast? Think of it as kedgeree for eaglet! | break·​fish
  • Breakfur: An early mammalian meal | break·​fur
C Words
  • Cameraflague: Eaglet D14 was expert at hiding above the camera and cables, but cameraflague can be applied to any eagle that hides above or behind a camera | cam·​era·​flague
  • Cameritisi Permanentitis Bugitis: A bug on a camera lens, aka camera bugs | cam·​er·​i·​ti·​si perm·​an·​en·​tis bug·​it·​is
  • Camming: Kids, stop that! Jumping or perching on a camera | cam·​ming
  • Claw Floss: The name we gave to Pinky the baling twine back in 2011. If you were watching in 2011, you remember when one of the eaglets – D1, maybe? – got twine wrapped around its leg. If you weren’t watching, a video: floss
  • Chef’s Surprise: I can’t see dinner through all those eagles! When eagle bodies obscure the meal being served. This is different than UFO, a meal we can see but not identify | chefs sur·​prise
  • Chicken of the Tree:  What’s the best dinner? Squirrel served in a tree! | chick·​en of the tree
  • Chicklet: See babyletchick·​let
  • Cirque du EEEaglee’: Feats (or feets) of aerobic performance! | cir·​que du EEE·​aglee
  • Cleaning Coma: The eaglets loved to emulate Dad’s cleaning skills, but they tended to lapse into a face plant before getting much done! This can be applied to any eaglet – or anybody! – who collapses after cleaning | clean·​ing co·​ma
  • Clown Clomp: An eaglet’s comical first steps | clown clomp
  • Clown Clompers: What do we do with these things? An eaglet’s oversized feet and talons | clown clomp·​ers
  • Clutch: A nest of eggs or a brood of chicks hatched during a single nesting period. Let’s do a learn! ‘Raptor’ derives from the Classical Latin verb rapere, which translates as ‘to plunder, rob, ravish, or abduct’. Some scholars believe that it was brought into English in a 14th-century Middle English translation of book eight of De proprietatibus rerum (The Properties of Things), which was authored in 1240 but not published until 1492. The salient passage reads: ‘‘The Goshauk…For þe takynge of oþir foules and for pray he is Iclepid aucipiter and raptour and rauyschere.’’ But around 1811, taxonomists – how many and who remains a subject of debate, although Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger and Nicholas Aylward Vigors are widely credited – turned the verb into a noun (raptores) that they used to describe all birds of prey. The English poet and zoologist James Jennings turned it into raptor in his work Ornithologia, or the birds: a poem in two parts, a 600-page work that includes fact, folklore, collected stories, and the word raptor. You can find that here: While clutch can be used to describe the eggs or broods of all birds , I am amused by the similarity between the meaning of the words clutch and raptor.
  • Convocation: A group of eagles. Watchers have also suggested quarrelrabbler (as in rabble), congress, recess, carnival, rave, gawk, confusion, scrum, and frat party! | con·​vo·​ca·​tion
  • Corn Husk: The outer covering of a corn cob. Husks are highly coveted for insulation and bedding! | corn husk
  • Corn Husk Pillow: A corn husk head rest | corn husk pil·​low
  • Crittergetter: Wing whaps used to counter intruders, especially pesky midnight mice! | crit·​ter·​get·​ter
  • Crop, aka Snack Pack: A muscular pouch in a bird’s neck that functions as a storage place for food | crop
  • Crop Flop: How can that eaglet even stand up? Plopping crop first into a food coma | crop flop
  • Cuddle Puddle: When all the eaglets cuddle closely together for safety or warmth | cud·​dle pud·​dle
D Words
  • DDD-ia Pets: Just add water to little eaglets and watch them grow! | DDD·​iapets
  • Decorah, aka Decorahdise: The idyllic location in Iowa where our eagle families built their Home-Tweet-Homes | dec·​o·​rah
  • Decorah-ate: Mom and DM2 are decorah-ating their nest! To beautify a nest with sticks and nesting material | de·​co·​rah·​ate
  • Decorah Front Porch, aka Front Porch or ‘The Porch’: Our place to watch the Decorah and Decorah North nests | dec·​o·​rah front porch
  • Decorah Shimmy: The back and forth motion that eagles use to position themselves over eggs and eaglets. We saw it in N1 first, but now we see it all over. Watch this video for a nice example from 2011: | dec·​o·​rah shim·​my
E Words
  • Eagleholics aka Eagle addicts aka Eaglemaniacs aka Wingnuts: Are you obsessed with the eagles? Do you neglect cooking, housekeeping, and sleep to watch them? Do non-eagle friends and family run away when you start talking about the eagles? Do you have non-eagle friends? You might be an eagleholic! | ea·​gle·​hol·​ic
  • Eagleholics Anonymous: A 12-step recovery program for eagle addiction. I have no idea where it meets! | ea·​gle·​hol·​ics anon·y·mous
  • E-Bots: Ambulatory hatchlings at age 4+weeks | e·​bot
  • E-Pology: A submission bow or act of ‘sorry’ after a sibling altercation | e·​pol·​o·​gy
  • E-Team: All of us long suffering worrywarts who love and worry about our eaglets | e·​team
  • EEE-Mail: What we used to communicate before Facebook, Slack, Teams, Zoom, and Twitter | eee·​mail
  • E.N.S: Empty Nest Syndrome |  e.n.s
  • Eagle Kneivel: Eagle daredevil or showoff behavior! | ea·​gle kn·​eivel
  • Eagle Time: Throw your calendar and clock away – we are on eagle time! More here:·​le time
  • Eagleology: The Raptor Resource Project’s online camera course in eagle watching! | eag·​le·​o·​lo·​gy
  • Eaglestock, aka Eaglefest: The over 300 million viewers who have watched our eagles since 2011 | ea·​gle·​stock
  • Eaglish, aka Eagle-ese: Our unique vocabulary, aka all these words we made up. Don’t understand a thing we’re saying? We’re probably speaking Eaglish! | ea·​glish
  • Eagleicious Delicious: Any delightful E behavior! | ea·​gle·​i·​cious del·​i·​cious
  • Eagletecture: Dad was known for his incredible construction skills, but this word can be applied to any eagle that has Dad-level nest construction OCD | ea·​gle·​tec·​ture
  • Eagletude: Any display of eagle attitude in eagles or followers! | ea·​gle·​tude
  • Eeelie Button: Yes, eagles have a belly button! It’s a small protuberance or scar left by the yolk sack cord. You can learn more about embryonic eagles here:·​lie but·​ton
  • EEElympics: Athletic feats of eaglet prowess! | eee·​lymp·​ics
  • Eggnant: Mom’s condition prior to laying eggs. See gravid | egg·​nant
  • Elebenty-Billion: An enormous number coined by Elfruler, RRP’s first lead chat mod | ele·​ben·​ty bil·​lion
  • Eyass: A raptor in its downy stage. The word comes from the French word nias, from the Latin word nidus, meaning nest | ey·​ass
F Words
  • Face Plant: Plopping into the nest face first. Faceplants usually happen just before the food coma sets in | face plant
  • Feaking: Cleaning one’s beak on a stick or branch | feak·​ing
  • Fish Fledge: Whoops! Breakfish flopped right out of the nest bowl…not that it escaped: | fish fledge
  • Fish Flops: Fish are the very latest in eagle footwear! It isn’t uncommon to see our eagles shuffling around the nest with fish stuck to their long, sharp talons | fish flops
  • Fishapalooza: A buffet bounty consisting of four or more fish brought to the nest in rapid succession, like DM2’s delivery of nine fish in 15 minutes – | fish·​a·​pal·​ooza
  • Fishcicles: A serving of frozen fish nestovers | fish·​ci·​cles
  • Flap Mob: Another excellent name for a group of eagles! This originally applied to siblings and new food items, but we’ve seen similar behavior on the Mississippi Flyway: mob
  • Flapadoodle: Get out of here, mouse! An amusing flurry of wing flaps performed by either parent. It generally occurs in the middle of night and scares the heck out of everyone watching | flap·​a·​doo·​dle
  • Flappathon: An extended multi-eaglet wingercizing session! | flap·​a·​thon
  • Fledge: A bird fledges when it takes its first intentional flight away from the nest. Not all fledges go smoothly: see Fludgefledge
  • Food Coma: A state of suspension that happens after a great big meal. Food comas are almost always preceded by swollen crops and face plants! | food coma
  • Fledge-U-Ation:  An eaglet’s graduation to the world beyond the nest. Next stop: Eagle College! | fledge·​u·​la·​tion
  • Fludge: A less-than perfect fledge. Fludges might be caused by rowdy siblings, accidental stumbles, or gnasty gnats | fludge
  • Full-Feathered: Our beautiful large eagle Moms! | full feath·​ered
G words
  • Gnasty Gnats: We sometimes refer to these ectoparasites as gnats, but black flies (family Simuliidae) are more closely related to mosquitoes and midges than bottle flies. Like mosquitoes, black flies lay their eggs in water. Like mosquitoes, female flies require a blood meal to provide protein for egg maturation. And like mosquitoes, black flies often hatch in swarms, cause physical damage, and can carry harmful pathogens that are transmitted via their bite | gnast·y gnats
  • Gnatercizing: Shaking off the gnasty gnats! | gnat·er·ciz·ing
  • Grub Buddy: Siblings compete, but they can also share. Grub buddy refers to one sibling feeding food to another. | grub buddy
  • Guy Liner: The black ‘rings’ around a male eagle’s eye. We used it to identify Dad Decorah, but it can be applied to any eagle sporting liner | guy lin·er
H Words
  • Hallux: Eagles have four toes. Three are in the front and one – the largest – is on the back of the foot. It aids perching and often serves as the primary skewer for stabbing prey | hal·lux
  • Home-Tweet-Home:  An eagle’s nest | home tweet home
  • Homeland Seggurity: A mythical agency in charge of nest enforcement rules and regulations | home·land segg·u·ri·ty
  • Hoo-Coos: Soft little vocals from the eaglets | hoo-coos
  • Hop-Squash: An exuberant nest hop resulting in a sibling step-on! | hop squash
  • Hoppiness: What else would you do after a good feed? If you didn’t face plant into a food coma, you might happy-hop! | hop·pi·ness
  • Hovering: Staying aloft in a fluttering suspended motion. An important step towards fledge! | ho·ver·ing
K, J, and L Words
  • Kettle: A collective term for a group of migrating raptors or, in general, a flock of birds of prey | ket·tle
  • JuvEEE’s: Our beloved eaglets just before they are ready to fledge | juv·eees
  • Juvie Jump, aka Leap Eagle: Like leap frog, but with eaglets! | juv·ie jump
  • Juvie Sprawl: JuvEEE’s lazing about and sprawling in the nest.
M Words
  • M.O.D.S – Master Ornithological Data Searchers: RRP’s moderators on chat, facebook, and | mods
  • Moist Fowlettes: Wet eaglets! | moist fowl·ettes
  • MombrellaMombrella originally referred to Mom Decorah, but it can be used for any eagle Mom who is protecting her offspring by covering them with her wings (see also poptent) | mom·brell·a
  • Moonwalk: An eaglet’s backup walk prior to a poop shoot! | moon walk
  • Mousepad:  The nest at night…especially when it is well-stocked with nestovers | mouse·pad
  • Mulch Mountain: The city of Decorah’s yard waste site | mulch moun·tain
N Words
  • NWZ, aka No Worry Zone: The state of zen that Eagleholics try to remain in during each season | n·w·z
  • Name That Prey: What did the eagles just bring in?  | name that prey
  • Nest Depot: How eagles get more done! The world’s best supply store for corn husks, branches, straw, horsehair, hay, and so much more! | nest de·pot
  • NestFlix: Our semi-nightly video round-up | nest·flix
  • Nest Potatoes: Our eagles lazily lounging, usually after eating | nest po·ta·toes
  • Nestcapades: Any and all eee antics! |  nest·ca·pades
  • Nest jerky: Dry stringy nestovers exhumed and consumed by ravenous tweagles | nest jer·ky
  • Nesterpiece Theatre: Post-dinner play antics | nest·er·piece the·a·tre
  • Nestoration: The act of working on, rearranging, or decorah-ating the nest | nest·o·ra·tion
  • Nestovers: Uneaten or partially eaten food stored in the nest | nest·overs
  • Netiquette: The level of decorum we expect on our chat, social media outlets, and at the hatchery | net·i·quette
  • Numb Butt, aka rumpicitis: An affliction caused by sitting at the computer too long | numb butt
O P, and R Words
  • Outstinkt: An eaglet’s instinct to shoot poop out of the nest | out·stinkt
  • PIP: People In Panic! | p·i·p
  • PS, aka Poop Shoot: Evacuation of the bowels | poop shoot
  • Pantaloons: Feathered leg eagle britches! | pant·a·loons
  • Pantree: The nest storage locker where extra food is stowed | pan·tree
  • Peaglets: Piggy little eaglets clamoring for food! | pea·glets
  • Pip Squeek: An emerging hatchling |  pip squeek
  • Pipping Toms: Eagleholics watching for pipping to start | pip·ping toms
  • Poop Art: Original whitewash gouache on the nearby trees; a takeoff of the 1960s Pop Art Movement | poop art
  • Poopcasso: A PS artist! | poop·cas·so
  • PoptentPoptent originally referred to Dad Decorah, but it can be used for any eagle Dad who is protecting his offspring by covering them with his wings (see also Mombrella) | pop·tent
  • Post D-Epartum Depression: What happens to Eagleholics when eagles leave the nest | post d·part·um de·pres·sion
  • Predicure: A manicure for a predator! | pred·i·cure
  • Prey Buffet: A fine fat feast of fish, fowl, and fur. Take your choice! | prey buf·fet
  • Prey Toy: Kids! Don’t play with your food! A meal tidbit used as a play thing | prey toy
  • PSFS, aka EFS aka Print Screen Finger or Explore Finger Syndrome. Synonymous with obsessively copying, printing and/or saving photo captures | p·f·s·f
  • R.O.T.N.S.O.L: Rolling On The Nest Squeeing Out Loud | rot·n·sol
  • RWS: Restless wing syndrome | r·w·s
  • Raptortherapy: What Eagleholics need after each season is over! | rap·tor ther·a·py
  • Riding The Rails:  Nail-biting first perches on the crib rails | rid·ing the rails
  • Rockem’ Sockem Babylets: A pecking order free-for-all beatdown. Bring your popcorn! | rock·em sock·em baby·lets
S Words
  • SED: Sweet Eagle Dreams or Sweet Eaglet Dreams | s·e·d
  • Scree-Geee’s: An eaglet’s scree band! | scree·gees
  • Screeenami Siren: The screee alarm alert by juvies at an impending food drop | scree·nami siren
  • Shellmet: An eaglet’s shell helmet, or the half shell that hatchlings sometimes end up sporting shortly after hatch | shell·met
  • Speggulation: Will those eggs ever pip and hatch? | spegg·u·la·tion
    Squibbit: Is that a squirrel or a rabbit? It’s a squibbit! | squib·it
  • Squeeez-in-nart: Nothing fillets food as fat and furiously as an eagle parent. Forget the Benihana Bunny – it’s time to get dinner on the table! | squeeez·in·art
  • Squeeesame Street: A mythical eaglet play place | sqeee·sa·me street
  • StarBeaks: An Eagleholic’s favorite corporate cawfee. Most popular blends: Decorah Decaf and Mocha Mantle | star·beaks
  • Synchronized Switching: Precisely timed incubation swaps | syn·chro·nized switch·ing
T Words
  • T.H.E: The Eagle Way | t·h·e
  • Tail Wiggle-Waggle: What is that thing? It’s my tail! Eagle tail feathers don’t begin pushing out until the eaglets are around 30 days of age. They sometimes seem to be a surprise! | tail wig·gle wag·gle
  • The Beakerson’s: An affectionate term of endearment given to Mom & Dad during their occasional spats | the beak·er·sons
  • Tippytalon: Eaglets en pointe like feathered ballerinas…or maybe circus clowns! | tip·py·talon
  • Tweagles: Teen eagles – a little awkward and always hungry! If they aren’t raiding the pantree for nestovers, they might be wingercizing or sprawling around the nest | tweagles
  • Tweed Overcoats, aka Flannel Pajamas: An eaglet’s grey woolly thermal down replaces the white dandelion fluff they hatch with. Tweaglehood is not far behind! | tweed over·coats
  • Tween Preen: Nibbling at and scratching the keratin sheaths that cover a tweaglet’s emerging flight and tail feathers |  tween preen
U and W Words
  • U.F.O: Unidentified food object | u·f·o
  • Whackdown: Wingwhack wrestling takedown! | whack·down
  • Whatta: The best way to start a sentence! | what·ta
  • Wilson: Okay, you kind of had to be there. It was a long, uneventful day in Decorah back in 2011: the kind of day that makes everyone fidgety. Like the volleyball in the Tom Hanks film Castaway, a lone rootball – Wilson – somehow became everyone’s friend and companion absent the usual eagle hijinks! | wil·son
  • Windterruption: A high wind day that causes the eee’s to lay low…and us to desert any trees we are working in. I’ve been up in high wind and I have a hard time watching this video, even though nothing goes wrong: | wind·ter·rup·tion
  • Wingercizing: Vigorous wing flapping that builds flight muscles and skills | wing·er·ciz·ing
  • Wingertainment: Excellent wingercizing wingertains us eagleholics! | wing·er·tain·ment
  • Wing Smackdown: Exuberant eaglet wingercizing that results in a sibling takedown | wing smack·down
  • Wing Whack:  Accidentally hitting siblings with your long, stretched wing | wing whack
  • Wonderstruck: The overwhelming feeling of watching the eagles: looking into the nest and seeing something of yourself looking back at you | wonder·struck

Where did I learn about the use of raptor as a term for a bird of prey? My first searches returned extremely low-quality information: everyone had the same date, but no one had a citation. Nope! I eventually found this excellent resource, which was full of helpful information and excellently cited. If you enjoy learning about the history of words, this paper is for you!