Thursday, September 27, 2012

Return to the Nest 2013: Q&A Session

Social Stream moved very quickly during the interview with Bob on Tuesday, September 25th! I wanted to publish his answers to a couple of the very commonly asked questions I saw floating around in the stream, and hopefully answer a couple that he didn't get to.

Before I start with the questions, videos are here:

What did you guys do when you installed the cam?

Bob Anderson directed the installation. He designed and tested the equipment, planned and oversaw the deployment, worked with Dave and Neil via the webcam to make sure everything was installed correctly, and staged on the ladder to help pass equipment.

Neil Rettig and Dave Kester climbed the tree. They cleaned the old camera dome, replaced the broken IR cam, removed an unnecessary screw, and added two new cameras: a new PTZ and a very high resolution fixed bullet cam. As Bob pointed out, we'll have new views. You will sometimes be able to see one of the cams appearing on screen.

Jim and Charlie worked on the computer and power protection systems and helped haul equipment.
Amy Ries briefly staged midway up the tree to help get the camera bag up, set anchors, and helped haul equipment.

What is new this year?

We have a new PTZ cam, a new high resolution fixed cam, new views of and from the nest, better surge suppression and electrical protection, new video cards, and a new system to switch back and forth between the cams on site or remotely.
Kudos are due John Howe for designing the switching system, and Kenny from Simms Electronics for his technical assistance and computer systems.

When is the cam turning on?

We don't have an exact date yet. We need to get a T1 line pulled in for faster service and make some changes to our computer system. It will be sometime between mid-October and mid-November.

When will chat re-open?

Chat will re-open in February. We will announce an exact date as it gets closer.

How did Mom and Dad react to the camera installation?

Mom and Dad weren't at the nest when we got there.  They did fly by in the early afternoon and vocalize two or three times before leaving. We saw them briefly soaring over the bluff later in the day, which was warm, windy, and perfect for flying.

Are Mom and Dad already working on the nest?

Yes, they are! They have begun adding crib rails to the side in preparation for next year's brood.

Were you able to get permission to lighten the nest? Who would you get permission from?  

The US Fish and Wildlife Service oversees permits and other issues related to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, including falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, special purposes (rehabilitation, educational, migratory game bird propagation, and salvage), take of depredating birds, taxidermy, and waterfowl sale and disposal.  We have permits to go into the nest and install cameras, and we have permits to band and attach transmitters to eagles, but we did not get permission to lighten the nest this year.

Bob pointed out that Neil, Dave, and all the gear weighed more than the eagles were likely to bring in this year, so we think the nest will be fine. We'll probably ask again next year.

Did you leave a treat for the eagles?

We usually do, but we did not this year. Fortunately, they didn't seem to hold it against us.

Is the crossbow dangerous to the eagles?

We use a dull bolt, but we also don't shoot the crossbow when the eagles are in or near the nest. We don't want to take any risks with them.

Will Mom and Dad migrate?

Probably not - they have a history of staying through the winter. Eagles are partial migrators - that is, some eagles migrate and others don't. For eagles to be non-migratory, there must be sufficient food during the winter.  The Decorah eagles have a nest in a relatively sheltered location, with ample access to food year round. The adults are not migratory.

Are D13 and D14 still around?

Yes, for D14, although we haven't seen D14 at the nest. D14 spends a lot of time NW of Decorah, near the Upper Iowa river. He has been seen in the company of other adult and hatch year eagles, but we don't know whether those eagles are family members. It is certainly possible, although there are other eagle families in the area. You can follow his adventures at:

Probably for D13 - D13 was believed to be spotted recently, but we don't know for sure.

Why do these eagles always lay three eggs?

They don't - in 2008, her first year at this nest, Mom laid a two-egg clutch. She has, however, laid three egg clutches every year since. Three egg clutches are not common in Bald eagles.  According to Gary Stahlmaster:
  • 79% of clutches have two eggs
  • 17% of clutches have one egg
  • 4% of clutches have three eggs
  • Less than 1% have four eggs.
Food availability impacts Bald eagles in a number of ways, although there is a lot of debate about whether or not it impacts clutch size.  Some studies say 'No', while others hint at a link. Our nests don't make it any clearer either way: one nest (the Decorah nest) has a reliable high-quality food supply in a relatively sheltered area, while the other nest (the Fort St. Vrain nest)  is at the foot of the Rockies in an area with harsh weather and a more limited food supply.  Yet the eagles at both nests have a tendancy to lay three egg clutches. We don't know why.

Are you going to turn the nightlight off this year?

No: the nightlight is infrared light, which the eagles can't see. Click here for more information on the IR cam.

Are you going to have cameras in the kestrel nests?

We don't have any plans to do so right now. The kestrel project is a pilot that explores using county right-of-ways along gravel roads to expand the kestrel population. We don't easily have a way to get power or connectivity out to the boxes, which are located in remote areas. If you would like to learn more about that project, click here.

What was that about Philippine Eagles?

The Raptor Resource Project will be working with the Philippine Eagle Foundation to raise awareness of the highly endangered Philippine Eagle. From the foundation:  The Philippine Eagle Foundation firmly believes that the fate of our vanishing Philippine Eagle, the health of our environment, and the quality of Philippine life are inextricably linked. We are therefore committed to promote the survival of the Philippine Eagle, the biodiversity it represents, and the sustainable use of our forest resources for future generations to enjoy.

We plan to add a Philippine Eagle cam and help sow the seeds for a recovery effort for and by the Philippine Eagle. We will post more about that as it gets underway.

Thank you for watching!


Priscilla Hrabarchuk said...

Awesome thank you RRP!

steven said...

thank you :) can't wait to see them again...

mimisatch said...

We thank you for all the hard work, physical and technical. Thanks to you, we have come to know and to love the American Bald Eagle. Love may they soar!

ann said...

Thanks for the info can hardly wait for the new season!!!!

Marie said...

This was a wonderful update, only adding to the excitement of the wonder which lies ahead in our very near future. So exciting and such generous and dedicated people are connected to the Research Project. Good luck with everything you do.

snogirl said...

Thank you mille fois! I am in awe of your team's devotion to this cause, and appreciate the opportunity to educate myself about these amazing birds.

Sharon Roberts said...

I can say for everyone that we are grateful for all you do and am thrilled to see the eagles this fall..this is my 3rd year and spend a lot of time watching, especially in the winter...Keep up the great work you :)

Becky C said...

Thanks so much for the info. You guys (ALL OF YOU) are awesome. BTW, the link in the kestrel info doesn't seem to be activated, at least not on my screen.

Anne & Alan said...

Thanks so much for this blog and extra info, some of the transmission was hard to hear. So excited for the next eaglets to arrive.

sdrose24 said...

Thank you Bob,Amy & the RRP Team for all your hard work. I have two questions; will you be following the Perigrine Falcon's nesting this year and will you have another barn cam for the Turkey Vultures? I am looking forward to the nesting season. It will be an interesting learning experience and lots of fun.

bob hunt said...

A Great Big Thanks to all @ RRP these past yrs have been most interesting, I look forward to a new year! Keep Up the Great Work

Laurie Langlois said...

Wow..amazing work..can't wait for the season to begin...Thanks!!

JODY said...

Love, love, lovethis:)

JODY said...

Love, Love, Love this! THANK YOU:)

Lena Norris said...

My first year watching and I am hooked.I feel like an adoptive parent and have come to love these birds.Thank-you for all the hard work you do that enables us to continue to be a witness to the goings on of this beautiful bald eagle family.I can't wait for this next season.

Breeze Boreal said...

Like so very many, I, too, am eagerly awaiting my 3rd season with our beloved Decorah family (avian and human). Thank you for all you continue to devote. Also, I will embark on some research now of the Philippine Eagle and await further news with great anticipation. Bless you, RRP.

Michelle Cohen said...

Thank you! We watched last year for the first time and we're eagerly awaiting this year's batch. I now have a child's stuffed toy eagle on my bedside table - at 47!

MaryAnn Fales said...

Thanking ALL at RRP!! Anxiously awaiting the new season here in Olathe & Tonganoxie Kansas.

MaryAnn Fales said...

Thanking ALL at RRP!! Anxiously awaiting the new season here in Olathe & Tonganoxie Kansas.

Cuidado said...

Clutch size in geese are dependent on the length of the couple's relationship. Couples together for a long time in stable relationships tend to have larger clutches. Possibly it is this way with eagles as well.

poly stick said...

Thanks for the info can hardly wait for the new season!!!!


Debby Rabe said...

Thank-you Bob, Amy and RRP. I am anxiously awaiting the new nesting season. I fell in love with the Decorah Eagle family at first sight. I have watched for hours at their loving relationship. I was lucky enough to see Mom lay her first egg last year! I am in awe at how they interact and raise their clutch. It is the best reality show and I am their biggest fan!

Mares said...

Does not look good for the old nest. Nothing has been done recently so guess we will not see the new eaglets until they fly. Sad but what can one do?