Thursday, August 03, 2017

What's On The Menu at Decorah North Nest? A guest blog by Sherri Elliott


Dad brings in the two-for-one suckerfish special!
It's been a bountiful season for The North's in the quantity of prey hauled home and caught on camera.  A total of 449 meals delivered this year vs 163 meals in all of the last season.

32 meals were enjoyed just by Mr and Mrs North during nestorations and before the first egg was laid,  409 meals delivered to the nest from first egg laid to fledge, and another 8 "picnics in the pasture" post fledge dropped to the fledglings.  That's quite a bounty!  Also noteworthy is the true partnership in procuring the provisions by the parents to provide for their peeps.  Last year it seemed that Mrs. North was more proficient than Mr. North in fishing, hunting, parceling out, or pilfering protein but this year the tally was almost 50/50 with Mrs. North bringing in 231 meals and Mr. North delivering 210 meals to the nest.  The North's seem to practice 'field dressing' prey by breaking down larger animals and bringing in pieces or sections of their protein, but each delivery was counted as a meal. It's almost impossible to determine via long distance food drops the division of duty for the picnic meals, so those 8 meals are tallied as unidentified protein brought by an unidentified parent.

The earlier egg lay this season (more in line with hatchery Decorah Eagles) allowed Mr. and Mrs. North to take advantage of the abundant fish runs of trout and suckers as well as filleted discards from the friendly landowners, more than doubling their haul to 246 fish this year vs 109 fish last year. Special applause to Mr. North on 4-12 for his 2 sucker fish delivery in a one-foot talon hold; and the new record on 5-13 of 9 fish in one day with 8 caught by Mr and 1 from Mrs. North.   Other notable deliveries were 4 fawn heads, and other assorted deliveries of deer legs and quarters;  Mrs. North's preference for 'cowghetti' (stringy cow placenta); and 2 turtles.

What we learned this year is what excellent providers the parents are in purveying provisions for the pantree, and while not a lot is stockpiled like we see at the hatchery nest to the south, the remains are picked clean and dutifully taken to the dump when done.  Both parents took an active role in feeding their offspring and there were several instances where Mr. North would have taken more of a share in feeding if not for Mrs. North's teakettle that she'd be in charge. This may have happened last year but the new microphone at the nest amplified the vocals that we have come to know as common by Mom Decorah, and it was interesting to add to our observations.

Here's the full list of menu items in whole or part.
  • Feathered: Birds (6), Chicken and parts (4), Coot (2), Duck (1), Gosling (2), Grouse or Pheasant (3), Turkey or Goose (1).
  • Fins: Trout (144), Sucker (44) Fish pieces (58)
  • Fur: Deer - Heads (4) and Legs or sections (12), Groundhog or Muskrat (2), Opossum (2), Rabbit (8), Raccoon and pieces (11), Squirrel (6) 
  • Reptiles: Turtles (2)
  • Rodents:  Field Mice or Voles (4)
  • Misc: Cow Placenta (37), Mystery Meat or Unidentified Food Objects (48), Animal legs/feet (4), Pink/Red Innards (24), Bony Meat (12)

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