Friday, April 8, 2011

Those Famous Decorah Eagles

Unless you have been living under a rock lately, and if you are tuned into the Internet or the news and national talk/personality shows, you have probably heard about the famous Decorah Fish Hatchery Eagles.  This particular pair of Bald Eagles have been raising eaglets in this nest for the past four years, including this year.  The male of the pair has "owned" this nest and territory for far longer than that.  Bob Anderson, with the Raptor Resource Project has operated this web cam, and many others like it, for many years, researching the lives of various raptor species, to include eagles, peregrine falcons, owls and ospreys.  This pair of eagles were featured on a PBS special in 2009 called American Eagle.  Here is a link to the full show if you did not see that.
Living about 30 miles or so from Decorah, Iowa, I decided I would come and take a few pictures and make a blog posting.  Rich and I visited this nest two years ago, and then saw their three eaglets, which were already the size of the parents, and would soon fledge.  It was much harder to see them, as the tree was all leafed out.  Soon those leaves will burst forth as Spring progresses, so opportunities to play Paparazzi were limited by the increasingly warming days.

This nest is very well situated by the Decorah Fish Hatchery.  Previously I have either heard or read that some fish are tossed out of the hatchery, those that have died, so there is an abundant supply of fresh fish to be had.  I imagine the eagles may also steal some fresh fish out of the raising ponds.  Of course, they hunt regular prey as well.  Recently viewers to the web cam have seen an increasingly varied stack of  dining choices, to include rabbit, crow, muskrat, and the ever present fish.
From a distance, you can get a perspective of just how big the nest is.  That small speck to the left of the nest is one of the parent eagles.  Below, I give you the view you can't get from the web cam.  My husband very recently surprised me with an early birthday gift.  He purchased a spotting scope for me.  Well, today I tried my hand at very amateur digi-scoping . . . that is, using your digital camera with your scope.  It was an effort, and many of my attempts didn't work, but I did catch a couple of good pictures that allow you to see back the other direction, at what the web cams look like.  I took the pictures from the bridge that goes over the creek.  When you look at the web cam, I stood where the road crosses just above the nest.

Here is the address in case you don't know it and would like to see the close up.

When that screen opens up, click on the black box for an up close and personal view of the intimate lives of this pair of eagles.  They have hatched out 3 eaglets so far, and the family is doing fine!

This is what the area looks like.  A creek runs by the nest tree, which is located on private land, a farm.

Above is the view looking East.
And this is the view looking West, from the bridge.
Here are some of the neighbors living on a few of the retaining ponds on the Fish Hatchery land.  Often I hear them flying while watching the nest cam.  The eagles track them, perhaps wishing to go chase and catch such a big tasty meal.

The cameras are on 24 hours a day.  At nighttime there is an infrared camera, so you can watch the eagles sleeping.

Come visit!!

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