Decorah Bald Eagles

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Welcome to the tenth year of the Decorah Eagles! We hope you enjoy watching and learning with us! Click the livestream to watch, click here to pop video out, and scroll down the page to learn more about the eagles and their surroundings.

Decorah
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humidity: 73%
wind: 3mph SW
H 42 • L 42
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About the Decorah Eagles

About the Eagles

The Decorah eagles are nesting near the Decorah Trout Hatchery, located at 2325 Siewers Spring Rd in Decorah, IA. The female is known as Mom and the male is known as DM2 (for the second Decorah male eagle). In general, they begin courtship in October, productive mating in late January or early February, and egg-laying in mid to late February. Hatching usually begins in late March to early April, and the eaglets fledge in mid-to-late June. While young usually disperse between August and October, the adults remain on territory year round. They eat live and and dead fish, squirrels, other birds, rabbit, muskrat, deer, possum and anything else they can catch or find. To learn more about bald eagles in general, please follow this link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. Visiting Decorah to see the eagles? Please read through our guide to eagle etiquette >> Bald Eagle Etiquette.

Female eagles are larger than male eagles, with slightly darker heads and more pronounced brows. The image below shows the differences in appearance between Mom and DM2 and should help in ID’ing them.

Decorah Eagles: Mom and DM2

History of the Decorah Eagles
Dad, Mom’s original mate, disappeared in April of 2018. Based on plumage color, Mom was four years old in 2007, making her fifteen years old in 2018. Click here for a guide to aging bald eagles based on plumage color and patterns.

After two other males came and went (you can read more about that here), Mom accepted a third suitor. As of December 2018, Mom and DM2 were working on nest N2B, defending the territory together, and copulating.

Nest Territory and Locations
Map of the Decorah Eagles Territory
Map of the Decorah Eagles Territory

Five nests (N0, N1, N2, N2B, and a second nest at N1) have been built on the Decorah territory. N0 was destroyed in a storm, the eagles left N1 on their own, and N2 was also destroyed in a storm. Fourth nest N2B is a little more complicated. Humans Neil Rettig and Kike Arnal built N2B in August of 2015. We hoped the starter nest would encourage the eagles to adopt it and keep building, which they did! Footage of the build can be seen here: https://youtu.be/2-xRSBBeIYs. A blog about the nest build can be read here. In 2019, a sub-adult male eagle began building a second nest at the old N1 site, sometimes referred to as N1B. We’ll see if the eagles use it for the 2019 season.

  • 2018: Dad disappears in April of 2018. He is last seen at N2B on April 18, 2018. After two male eagles come and go, Mom accepts new mate DM2, for Decorah Male 2. The two begin working on N2B in October.
  • 2015: N2 is destroyed during a storm the morning of July 18. In August, humans build a nest (N2B) to encourage the eagles to begin building near the former location of N2. Mom and Dad adopt N2B in October of 2015.
  • 2012: Mom and Dad begin a new nest (N2) in mid-October on the north bank of Trout Creek about 700 feet from N1, which is still standing
  • 2007: N0 is destroyed during a storm. Dad and OM begin building a new nest (N1) in the yard of a home just north of the hatchery. OM disappears in early fall. 2007: A four-year old female (Mom) joins Dad at N1 in early December.
  • 2002’ish: the male eagle (Dad) and his original mate (OM) build a nest (N0) in the hills to the east of the hatchery
Quick facts
Common name: Bald Eagle
Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Length: 2.3–3.1 feet | 71–96 cm
Wingspan: 5.9 – 7.5 feet | 1.7-2.2 meters
Weight: 6.5 – 13.8 pounds | 3–6.3 kilograms
Lifespan: Up to 40 years in the wild

Bald Eagle Vocalization

News

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Friday Nestflix!

It’s a little odd to see both nests covered in snow in November, but this is perfect eagle weather: sunny and relatively warm, with open water at Decorah and Decorah North. Snow can give animals cover, but darkly-colored animals like rabbits and squirrels show up very well against the white snow, and rabbits tend to leave trails and dark feces that reveal activity areas, aka eagle hunting grounds. We’ve got one video from each nest along with a companion video

November 13, 2019: Videos from Decorah and the Flyway

We have just two videos tonight, but both are worth watching! Mom and DM2 get into a food chase in Decorah, while Sandhill cranes migrate and forage along a flyway that is rapidly icing over! The cranes will be fine – birds that nest in the north are used to inclement weather, even if they migrate – but after a lovely warm autumn, it’s a shock to see them in ice and snow. What about Mom and DM2’s food chase?

November 12: Videos from Decorah, Decorah North, and the Flyway

Our video mega-roll includes videos from the Decorah Eagles, the Decorah North Eagles, and the Mississippi River Flyway. Eagles are Decorah-ating, preening, snapping sticks, fishing, and forming an eagle heart, while Tundra swans and other birds are migrating, and late fall is rapidly becoming early winter! We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did! Decorah Eagles 11/09/19: Mom and DM2 work on the nest – https://youtu.be/iJ4bzSXl9eg. The video opens with DM2 moving a few sticks around the

A Snow Day in Decorah!

Break out the hot chocolate! Mother Nature turned Decorah, Decorah North, and the Flyway into a snow globe today, shaking things up with two to four inches of powder. While Mom and DM2 and Mr. North and DNF shoveled snow, the eagles on the Flyway enjoyed a snow day! We hope you enjoyed these videos as much as we did. Thanks to our amazing camera operators and videomakers for all their work finding and sharing special moments, and to you

How much weight can a bald eagle carry?

On November 4th of 2015, photographer Alex Lamine photographed the female bald eagle at Berry College carrying a very large stick, which she dropped. That stick turned out to be 12 pounds! Today, Mr. North dropped a stick of unknown weight, although it was clearly more than he could lift from the ground. How much can eagles carry? We’ve speculated quite a bit about how much weight eagles can carry.  I talked to Professor Jim (Grier has studied birds of prey

>> More News
Nest Records

Decorah Eagles 2019 Nesting Record

Egg-Laying
Egg #1: February 22, 2019 @ 10:32 PM CT
Egg #2: February 26, 2019 @ 6:44 PM CT
Egg #3: March 2, 2019 @ 7:05 PM CT

The first egg broke on March 11.

Hatching
Hatch #1: April 4, 2019 @ 6:54 PM CT (D32)
Hatch #2: April 7, 2019, @ 7:19 PM CT (D33)

Fledging
Both eaglets abandoned the nest early following intense blackfly swarms.
D32 left the nest on June 4, 2019. He was 61 days old. He was picked up and is still in the care of SOAR.
D33 left the nest on June , 2019. She was 59 days old. She was picked up and cared for by SOAR until her release in the fall of 2019.

D32 is 226 days 16 hours old.
D33 is 223 days 15 hours old.
Eaglets and Outcomes >>
 YearNest EagletsOutcomes
2019N2B2 – D32, D33Both eaglets abandoned the nest early
following an intense blackfly swarm.
D32 is being cared for by SOAR. D33
has been released.
2018N2B3 – D29, D30, D31All fledged.
2017N2B3 – D26, D27, D28All fledged. D27 is still alive.
2016N2B2 – D24, D25D25 was struck by a car and died.
D24 is still alive.
2015N23 – D21, D22, D23All fledged
2014N23 – D20, D19, D18All fledged. D18 and D19 were electrocuted.
D20 is still alive and living at SOAR.
2013N23 – D17, D16, D15All fledged
2012N13 – D14, D13, D12All fledged. D12 and D14 were electrocuted.
2011N13 – E1, E2, E3All fledged. We last saw D1 in July of 2014.
Her current status is unknown
2010N13 – Not namedAll fledged
2009N13 – Not namedAll fledged
2008N12 – Not namedAll fledged

We often get questions about where the eaglets go after they disperse. We tracked eaglets in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017 to try to answer this question. For more information, visit our eagle maps.

Videos

Decorah Eagles Video Playlist

Click the icon on the top left of the stream to view a full list of videos from our 2019 playlist, or visit our our YouTube channel.