October 28, 2015
Like every year, Season 6 is starting off with issues. Our camera maintenance is complete as can be. However, squirrels have left us with one microphone this season on the fixed cam. Raccoons have also been a big problem and caused some damage to the nest. Aluminum flashing was installed near the base of the nest tree. A camera was set to observe that it works. However, the critters have found another way to get up.
Our first visit this season was by Taylor on August, 31st. Blair showed up the morning of September 20th. However, before she showed up we were watching a very large sub adult coming in the nest with Taylor. It was interesting to watch and many wondered if we would have another season where there was a changing of one of our adults. Thankfully this was not the case.
Last season we had an easy time with identification of Blair & Taylor. Taylor was younger and had specific dark markings to his head and tail feathers. This season is not the case after molting this summer and fall. Do not feel badly if you make a mistake on ID'ing them. It will be difficult for a while. Here are a couple pictures by one of our moderators, Jocelyn Armstrong, on USTREAM. Taylor still appears to have some grayness on his beak near the cere. This is where the nares or an eagle's nostrils are. There is a ridge there and you will notice it when you see closeups. When the PTZ cam is not zoomed you might still have difficulty. Not seen in this picture of Taylor is a white feather on his left side of the neckline (nape). The area around his eyes also seem to have a darker look to them.
Blair (Left) & Taylor (Right)
The students are excited for the eagle season to intensify. The students will get a lot more into the project as the season moves forward. For now, let's just watch when the eagles show up and see what happens. This nest is due for some success!
December 1, 2015
As December begins so does our online chat on the 2 cam tab. Blair and Taylor continue to make nest visits, and sometimes just come to perch on the den branch and on the front perch. Today we had a food item brought to the nest. It is not often we see food come to the nest when it isn't nesting season. It does happen on occasion. It appeared to be a bone from a deer.
Hopefully Blair and Taylor will do a better job in the future to build up the rails. Even though there has not been eaglets here for several years, over time the sticks seem to break down or settle. The nest rails need a lot of attention.
I have seen other eagles in the area, and in the last week or so Taylor has a newfound energy to bring in sticks and corns talks. Corn stalks can do nicely to add to the base of the nest whereas softer nesting material could go over the top. They also help fill in gaps around the rails. The eagles know best and we have the opportunity to observe.
If you have a chance please tune in. Best times to watch are in the early morning and late in the day.
December 15, 2015
Last Friday, a deer hit on the highway right across from the nest was moved to a safe place in a field. This of course is safer for people as well as the eagles. However, the prospect of an easy meal this attracts a large number of eagles. On Saturday, I observed easily a dozen eagles of various ages. It is exciting but at the same time there is apprehension as I know that it can cause territorial disputes. Our eagles have experienced that almost every season. When there isn't activty at the nest we have been watching them via the ptz cam in the field. There has been lots of flying around and big wings galore!
Yesterday, one of the eagles visiting the area was wearing a band on the left leg. We sent in as much information as we could get from the video. Sadly, it was not enough. We learned that to ID an eagle by a band everything is needed. I know people think that some are not doing enough to get the eagle's history, but it is what it is. That is the current system and we will live with it. Tonight, I observed as many as 12 eagles in the area. It is good knowing the eagle population is healthy around here, but also know it can be affected very quickly if people do not continue to make good choices regarding the use of non lead in hunting and fishing, as well as maintaining our water quality. Many of the eagles may simply be passing through while migrating further south.
Enjoy watching the live streams. Keep in mind, most everything posted is in the daily updates, but there is also an Eagles4kids FaceBook page. We are approaching 6,000 likes and have been viewed in 137 countries. Isn't that amazing?
February 3, 2016
Last year, Blair laid her first egg on the February 18th. That was considered early for our area, but only one hour after Mom Decorah laid her egg. Will Blair be earlier this season? It certainly seems like she could be. They have been mating multiple times per day. This intensity is in line with what we have seen on other cams as well that intensity tells us we are not far off from that first egg. I have said this so many times, "Time will tell."
The storm that rolled through the last couple days didn't keep Blair or Taylor away. She is now perched for the third night in a row. That too says that maybe she is closer than what we would expect. With all of this, I can also tell you there are other eagles in the area. We have nesting pairs not far away. Maybe those eagles are venturing out. It has caused Blair & Taylor to be on alert more. We remember last year that Mister came in and disrupted the pair bond here. Instincts are kicking in, and they will defend their territory.
Blair and Taylor were off the nest a lot. We did spot an eagle in the morning and it was neither Blair nor Taylor. The day before, there was an eagle spotted as well, perched high in an oak tree about one mile from the nest.
Many questions have surfaced as to why Blair and Taylor were off the eggs like they were. One answer “may” be to divert the attention of any eagle away from the nest. Something we could not see was going on. Taylor had some difficulty brooding with his broken toe from the February 18th attack. He was still healing and doing what he could and also trying to defend his territory and the eggs. At times, the behavior was strange to many of us, but there is usually a reason in nature for everything. It turns out there was good reason. Keep in mind; we can only see what is in front of the lens. So much happens off camera.
Some believe the new eagle to be a female. We DO NOT hold that opinion at this time. Some think there was an attack on Blair yesterday around 5:30. We believe that was simply the new male trying to land in heavy wind gusts. Blair was alerted and spooked a bit.
The Eagles4kids nest is not the only nest to have this happen. There has been other on cam instances of things like this happening. We are not alone. One could make a generalization that this has been going on since eagles have been around. We simply don’t witness it as often.
As for the new male we are observing, he may be the male we see here on out. One would think that Taylor would have been here if he could. He has been injured before and been away from the nest. There is some possibility of that if he is injured, but at this point it would be normal for him to fight to the end as well. If this male sticks around, he will likely be the one we observe next year too. We are not addressing naming at this point. The future is not a good thing to predict either.
Why did the new male do what he did? Over the years, I have learned from others and from reading. The best I can say is that he likely does not have a nest, or a mate. Eagles are “born” to procreate. Obviously, he needs both to do so. He gets both here, and a prime territory it seems as well. Again, the strong survive. He also wants to have his genes here and not another male eagle’s. What we saw does not make him a bad eagle, it is normal, even though our emotions do not allow us to see it that way.
If indeed this male continues here, it does not mean that other nest disputes will not happen. The population is very strong. So strong in fact, that disputes may be more the norm. Maybe it is nature’s way of balancing things out. If it is too hard to watch, please come back when you feel comfortable. The students are handling this, as I knew they would. They are awesome!!! Yes, they feel sad, and disappointed. But kids, they move on quickly and will observe like the previous 5 seasons.
We are not really experts here. There are some books for that. We are merely looking into nature’s window with two cameras. My team of people working behind the scenes has helped document time off eggs. Blair and Taylor have been off eggs for longer periods than people like to see. The question of eggs hatching was a serious one. As a matter of fact, eggs were left alone or not incubated on average of 166 minutes/day. Many of those were shorter times but nonetheless this is something important to note. One of the eggs appeared to have a chick inside as the male destroyed the eggs and contents. One appeared to have yolk type matter. It is inconclusive at this time. I only say this as to add some facts behind our observation. Maybe it will help people in some way that worry about eggs and cold. Take it for what it is worth.
It is normal for viewers to have many emotions. As viewers, we need to accept the fact that this is nature. I know you all have heard that a lot here, but it is true. What will be will be. Here, or any other cam for that matter.
Facts: New male has taken over for now, and will likely stay. Blair is here and acting normally. Eggs are gone, and it is too late to have another clutch. I can state fact about Taylor’s health. I can only say he has not been seen since 7:30 PM on April 2nd.
I know I have probably missed something. You may have your own opinions about the situation here. These are my observations.
Darrin Briggs – 3rd Grade Teacher and E4K Project Coordinator