March 8, 2024: News and NestFlix from around our nests!

Congratulations to the Fort St. Vrain Eagles on their third egg! We haven’t passed the solstice yet, but spring has sprung: almost all of the birds we watch are busy laying eggs, tending eggs, protecting territory, courting, and/or copulating right now! We’ve been working hard and hope to have a few cool surprises for everyone in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, kick up your feet, grab a beverage, and soar into the weekend with our NestFlix raptor mega-roll from Fort St. Vrain, Decorah North, Trempealeau, and Great Spirit Bluff! I loved all of these videos, but Mr. North’s attempt to feed DNF was a don’t miss for me!

Thanks to our awesome camera operators and videomakers for finding and sharing such special, intimate moments; to our wonderful moderators for creating community and sharing their knowledge and experience, and to all of you for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring! Happy Fri-yay, everyone!

Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrain Eagles

March 7, 2024: Xcel Energy~Ma Lays 3rd Egg-Both Cam View This is a cool video! We get to see both views of Ma FSV laying her third egg. She appears to be laboring quite hard and, although she’s an experienced eagle with an excellent history, it is a relief when she lays it!

We’re anticipating hatch on or around April 10. Congratulations to the Fort St. Vrain Eagles!

Decorah North Eagles
Mr. North attempts to feed DNF. Is he anticipating eaglets?
Mr. North attempts to feed DNF. Is he anticipating eaglets?

March 6, 2024: Mr. brings fish, offers DNF a nibble, she turns him down How often does DNF turn down a food gift? Mr. North flies in with a fish. DNF begins wheedling, sound oddly falcon-like as she makes her interest in breakfish known. He tries to feed her beginning at about 24 seconds, which is as cute as it sounds! But she continues her plaint and he flies out, leaving the fish behind. Satisfied with the fresh nestovers, DNF leaves them alone – for now!

That was unusual enough that I had to check our logs. The cam ops note that she started eating around 1:16 – a late al fresco lunch? – and only had one fish on March 6th. But get ready for cowghetti – they also noted that cows and newborn calves were in the field!

March 5, 2024: DNF close-ups in the sun: and Mr North in the spotlight “Did you see the eagles this morning?” John asked me. “The camera work was amazing!”. The first video features DNF and the second features Mr. North. Both are absolutely stunning. I especially enjoyed the frost on Mr. North’s back, DNF basking a little in the sun – she looks like she’s soaking up the spring warmth on her porch and completely closes her eyes! – and the beautiful colors, light, and textures in both videos.

March 6, 2024: Mr. North appears to be shedding a tear, but it isn't a tear or extra-renal salt removal (which is pretty cool, TBH). It's a remarkably well-placed raindrop!
March 6, 2024: Mr. North appears to be shedding a tear, but it isn’t a tear or extra-renal salt removal (which is pretty cool, TBH). It’s a remarkably well-placed raindrop!

March 4, 2024: Rough weather for Decorah North Eagles We’ve seen very little rough weather this year, but the North nest got some rain today!Listen for the lovely sound of rain and watch the drops bead up and ron down DNF’s back in the first part of the video. We get a look at Mr. North beginning at 1:40. While it isn’t raining, he’s damp and not quite his usual sleekly styled self as he keeps his eggs warm and dry through chilly wind!

Trempealeau Eagles

March 6, 2024: Mrs. T returns with nesting material, takes over I love the woven basket look of this nest. It’s quite high in the tree and seems – as most pine nests I’ve been in – to be precarious, although they nest has been there for years! Mr. T is incubating when Mrs. T flies in – right over his head! – with nesting material: soft grasses perhaps plucked from the river bank or hill behind the nest. He hops up on the rails while she arranges sticks before settling over the eggs.

March 5, 2024: Mr. T brings Mrs. T a makeup fish!
March 5, 2024: Mr. T brings Mrs. T a makeup fish!

March 5, 2024: Mr T is NOT sharing his fish! The video opens with Mrs. T vocalizing. She gets up as Mr. T flies in and perches on the rails, a lovely fresh fish grasped firmly in his talons. She’s been incubating and is probably hungry, but he refuses to share it. Wheedling and pleading? I can’t hear you! She tried to grab it several times and he rebuffs her before flying away. Really, Mr. T? It’s fine if you want to eat your own fish, but why did you bring it to the nest? Mr. T redeems himself – in my entirely human worldview of things! – by bringing a lovely fresh fiah into the nest at 12:29. After he flies out, she hungrily eagles it down!

We don’t get a great look at the fish, but I believe, based on the size and red fins, that it is a redhorse sucker. Suckers play a very important role in the aquatic food web, but largely fly under the radar because they are viewed as having little to no commercial or sport value. Like eagles, they have spawning site fidelity, meaning the same fish come back to the same creek year after year to lay their eggs. Like eagles, they make annual migrations to and from their breeding grounds, although we don’t know whether they travel communally. And when they spawn, they fill tributaries with eggs and waste, which nourish animals and aquatic plants. Eagles benefit directly by eating suckerfish, and indirectly by eating other species that are rooted in a thriving watershed. Learn more about them here:

Great Spirit Bluff
March 8, 2024: Lisa on the rock-ledge diner. She and Newman have hit their stride!
March 8, 2024: Lisa on the rock-ledge diner. She and Newman have hit their stride!

March 7, 2024: Nookie in the Woods! In the spring a falcon’s fancy may lightly turn to thoughts of love! Newman and Lisa have clearly hit their stride! I also enjoyed seeing them perched on a tree branch – I so often think of falcons in terms of snags, potholes, and ledges, but they also perch and copulate in trees! Newman’s acrobatic fly-in starts at 2:18, while Lisa seems more interested in dinner!

We’ve started our surveys and as always, I’m fascinated at the different levels of activity at sites in the same geographic region and biome. Many things contribute to reproductive timing, including new mates, new falcons entirely, and nest site competition. But it isn’t always obvious why some sites sit empty while others are filled with the excited wailing of excitable falcons in the spring. The Norths and Ma and Pa Jr. laid on the early side of their regular window. Will our falcons do the same?

Odds and Ends

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge a haven for birds and other species: Of course you Flyway people already know this! Not much in the way of an article, but some really nice photos and a look at people and wildlife in a unique and beautiful place.

We put a few new lesson plans in our online classroom! If you are a teacher with an education account, click the featured videos and lesson plans tab. We’ll have a few new changes and birds to watch in the weeks to come: