Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Decorah: the eagles, N2, and our plans

Camera and N2
As you might know, wind took down N2 in Decorah very early on Saturday, July 18. The limb that held the nest tree was sheared completely off, several trees in the immediate area were toppled, and a few rows of corn in the field near the nest were flattened. The eaglets and mom were quickly accounted for. Dad kept us wondering until Sunday morning, when he was spotted at a favorite perching place on top of the bluff near the hatchery. As sad as the loss of N2 is, it could have been so much worse. There was no loss of eagle or human life, the family wasn't using the nest, and Mom and Dad are in a period of latency. Once again, a traumatic event for us is simply a part of life for them.

So what's going to happen next? At this point, we are waiting to see what the eagles do. We expect that Mom and Dad will start building a new nest in the fall, most likely in October. We don't believe they will abandon their territory, although we don't know exactly where they will rebuild or whether they will go back to N1. We will be watching closely to see what happens. Will the question of alternate nests finally be answered, at least in this case? Will the eagles rebuild in the woods next to trout creek or choose another spot? When exactly will they start and what will it look like? Thanks to Jim Womeldorf's work in 2013, we have a great basis for comparison!

N2 from the back, splintered limb
Having said that, we can't guarantee a live stream from this location in 2016. Installing and cabling a camera is a huge project, especially if directional boring needs to be done. Once the eagles start working on a nest, we don't want to risk shifting them again. If we can find another solution - a ground cam, for example - we will, but it is hard to plan when we don't know what Mom and Dad will do.

Bob has been thinking about another Decorah eagle cam for quite some time. Eagles can nest anywhere, but a camera needs electricity and internet access - two things that are in short supply at many locations! Fortunately, he identified another possible location just this spring. We will be placing cameras there this fall while we wait to see what Mom and Dad do. If we can't put a camera in N3 this year, we will do it next year. If it is possible to put N3 online via a ground cam, as Jim Womeldorf did in 2013, we will. And if neither of the first two options are possible, we will continue to observe and report on Mom and Dad old-school style. 

A lot of people are asking how Mom, Dad, and the eaglets weathered the storm so successfully. Eagles and many other birds sense changes in barometric pressure hours in advance of incoming weather. While they can't forecast long-term changes in weather (a rough winter, for example), they do sense and respond to relatively immediate weather conditions. The eagle family and other area birds probably sensed the incoming storm and hunkered down in a safe, relatively sheltered area to ride it out. They have long talons with excellent gripping strength (400psi per talon!), and can change their aerodynamic characteristics by changing their shape. So the next time you know rough weather is in the forecast, watch the birds (and bees) and see how they react! 

A few links on the subject: 

Damaged corn




15 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you for all of your work RRP. Most of all I appreciate the 'education' factor.

chattdogwalker said...

Yup, I, too, appreciate the RRP for raising my awareness of raptors. You all are priceless.
Ann

Brenda Cash said...

Wasn't it July 18th, and not June 18th?

brulau said...

Now is the time to make that donation to RRP that you have been considering. Link to donate right on this page.

Beryl Hull said...

Thanks so much for the update, Amy! Talons are crossed hoping Mom and Dad build in an observable location, but feel reassured that RRP will "continue the mission". Who knew Eagles had so much drama in their lives?

kdavisrunt said...

Thank you Amy for all the information!! Excited to see what our P's do. And what fun to meet abnew Decorah family!!

Gail Hughes said...

Just wanted to thank you for all you do to keep us up to date on Eagles welfare and have really enjoyed the information with pictures posted to Facebook this year, though did see D23 hatch, first live one I have seen in watching for the last 3 or 4 years. Glad to hear all is well with all the humans and eagles and glad none were injured.

RuthMItchell said...

Thank you so much Amy for the hard work and the information you share with us because of all that hard work!!! I am, of course, very sad at the loss of N2 but I am so very very grateful that it happened after the fledge and that our Eagles were not using the nest much to speak of. I am looking at this as a fabulous learning opportunity for us as we wait and watch to see what Mom and Dad do next!!!!
Eagle On!!!!

Winona Musgrove said...

Of all the trees for the storm to hit, it had to hit this one. I can just see mom and dad already looking for just the right crotch in just the right tree to start their building. They are wonderful builders as we've all seen. God watches over them and he chose the time after the Fledge which was nice of him!! Thanks so much for your account so we know what is going on.

Annie from Oregon said...

Amy, your blogs are always easy to follow, efficient, and stuffed with information. I appreciate how you research, put it all together, and document "the rest of the story" for us. RRP, Bob Anderson, you, the camera and technical crew, the mods (actually, every aspect of the entire Project)are tireless and have accomplished amazing things in this world.
I am sad at the loss of N2, ever grateful there were no deaths or injuries. It really is out of our hands for the timing or the future, but I am confident RRP will put the eagles first and foremost. Always. Thank you for your hard work and care. Eagle on!

perchporch3 said...

You can count me in on the "old fashioned" way of observing this fall and winter when I can get there, every eagle eye counts. I watched my pair in East Dubuque build a new nest this fall and winter and about 10 days late for them she layed eggs in old nest but I bet the new nest will be ready for next season now on private property a 1/2 mi away and hard to observe. I'll be so amped to see what we see next season. I was there today Amy and it was so sad to see the void in N2 but the broken branch in N1 really helps lol

Emma_EagleHawk said...

Thanks for the great info and updates, but as someone else said it was July 18th, not June. And, shouldn't that be the 2016 season? Easy mistake to make, given how often we have to write the year. :)
Either/or, I'm glad the family is safe and my personal hope is that they go back to N1, but I'm sure that is very doubtful.

Pam Schmidt said...

My thanks, too! You have an ever changing job. My Kindergarten students watched the nest this Spring and it was such a great lesson on how to address challenges in life. I'm hoping they followed the eagles on the cam through their summer vacation. I'm curious and looking forward to learning what happens next!

Patch Davis said...

Here is Florida, we are familiar with strange storms/winds. A microburst once took down an old oak tree directly between our house and the
neighbors', miraculously missing both our roofs! It occurs to me the weight of the nest itself may have made the N2 tree more vulnerable?
Thank you for all the photos and information. "Our" eagle family is unique in nature, as they have the BEST parents and the BEST location
possible and consistently fledge an unusual THREE new eagles into the wild every year.

Shar said...

Thank you so much for the wealth of information. Every year I find something new about the Eagles.