How do we build a starter nest?

Followers are wondering about a starter nest at Decorah North. We’ll be surveying the area post After The Fledge to identify potential trees. Bald eagles seem to prefer trees with a relatively open or small canopy, good sightlines, and clear flightlines. Limbs need to hold sticks and nests must be relatively easy to fly into and away from, especially since parents will be carrying food to hungry eaglets! If the tree isn’t on the edge of the pasture, it will need to be taller than the surrounding trees and of course we want something alive and healthy – for us as well as for the eagles!

We usually get into the tree using ropes, although John rebuilt the Fort St. Vrain nest via lift. Either way, we’ll most likely build a framework to help hold the first sticks and heap it full of more sticks – as many from the fallen nest as we can! – and leafy debris to mimic the humus that helps stick the nest together. Iowa is humid and nest materials compost rapidly.

A few of you have asked if we need to build a starter nest. It’s true that eagles usually build their own nests. However, we would like to continue to watch this family as it changes through the years. Our cameras, volunteers, and followers have helped produce a remarkably deep map of eagle life: what new parents look like, what experienced parents look like, what nest-keeping looks like, what eaglet care looks like, what courtship and copulation look like, and the many ways in which eagles respond to the challenges of their lives and surroundings – some natural and some human-made. We’ve learned so much since we started this project, and I hope we’ve helped change some attitudes, too! Eagles and falcons aren’t humans, but they have their own internal lives and a sense of being.

Our mission revolves around education, conservation, and research, and we do those things very well. But the human dimension underlies everything we do and sometimes we don’t, as researchers and raptorheads, recognize its importance. People watch eagles and falcons for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you can’t explain or understand why you feel so drawn to them, but you are. Maybe you are building bonds as you share eagles and falcons with a treasured friend, a parent or grandparent, a child or grandchild, a spouse, a lover, or someone else important to you. Maybe this is how you get outside and experience the amazing life all around you. Because however you think of miracles and their origin, I think that we get to experience this is nothing short of miraculous. I love that about what we do.

Videos and Such

I’ve added a few pictures of the nest-building process to give you an idea of what it might look like! I’ve also linked to videos:

We’ll keep everyone posted on our plans! Feel free to ask away in the comments and please donate to support our work if you can:…/make-a-donation/.