March 3, 2024: Day Trip To Decorah

Story and photos by Robin Brumm

I had been to Decorah a couple of weeks ago, but Mom and DM2 were not incubating at that time. It was a busy week, and just when I was about to write a day trip, I found out that John saw Mom & DM2 were incubating on Friday. So I decided to wait on the day trip and head to Decorah again last Sunday to see if I could get some pictures of them incubating. I was planning on getting up at dark o’clock, but then I remembered, if they were incubating, they would be there no matter what time I left, so I got up at dark ’thirty instead, lol.

DM2 left and Mom right
In N4: DM2 left, Mom right

When I got to Decorah, I went right to N4 to see Mom and DM2. I walked down the trail and set up my lawn chair, looked through my binoculars and didn’t see anything! Hmmm.. I sat there for at least 45 minutes and didn’t see anyone in the nest. I was starting to get worried. All of a sudden, I saw an eagle in the nest, bent over, looking like it was rolling an egg! What? It was there all the time and I just couldn’t see it! I guess the crib rails are high this year!

Mom in N4
Mom in N4

After looking at my photos, I think it was Mom that had been in the nest. Mom stood in the nest for a few minutes and then flew off. About the same time, DM2 flew to the dead tree across the river from the nest. He perched there for a while before flying to the nest. I watched him settle down and incubate and at times, I could see his head through the rails and at other times I couldn’t see him at all.

Can you spot DM2 incubating?
DM2 incubating. Can you see him?

Meanwhile, Mom flew to the dead tree and perched there. DM2 stood up for a bit in the nest. It was a warm sunny day and the temperature was in the 70’s, so I wasn’t surprised that he was standing up. Eagles will keep the egg at a temperature of 99º-100ºF, and since their body temperature is 102º-105ºF they will often stand up to let the eggs cool on a warm day. Suddenly, DM2 flew off the nest. He followed the river downstream for a little bit, then circled around and flew back toward the dead tree where Mom was perched. As he got closer to Mom, he fluttered his wings and almost seemed to hover, as he slowly came down and landed on Mom’s back. They mated and then he hopped on to the branch next to Mom. A couple of minutes later, Mom flew to the nest. DM2 followed her and stood guard on a branch in front of the nest. Eventually Mom settled down to incubate, and DM2 flew off behind the trees.

By this time, I had been there for several hours and decided it was time to go. I hope that Mom and DM2 have a successful year. I’m looking forward to seeing some little bobbleheads peeking out over the rails, although considering I couldn’t see the parents incubating, I might be able to see them when they are about to fledge! Lol.

Mom, top. DM2, bottom!
Mom, top and DM2, bottom

*Note: I did include a few pictures from my trip a couple of weeks ago. Even though they were not incubating, they were working on the nest and both were in and around the nest the whole time I was there.

RRP appreciates Robin’s generosity in sharing her photos and reminds you they are copyrighted and may not be downloaded without her express written permission.

DM2 in back and Mom in front
DM2 in back and Mom in front