As we move farther into February all of my favorite live nest cams are eagerly awaiting the return of their birds. First and foremost are my Decorah Eagle parents. The main concern with my eagles is whether or not they will choose the nest with the cameras. Earlier this year the eagles started building an alternate nest somewhat close to the original. Since we don’t know which nest they will end up choosing to use this breeding season it has been a nail-biting period of weeks waiting for them to finally make up their minds. If they end up choosing the new nest we will not be able to watch them on nest cam which would be extremely disappointing.
Another nest cam I ended up watching a lot last year, and plan on watching again this year, is the Great Blue Heron nest cam. I had a lot of fun watching what looked like little fuzzy ET babies grow up in the nest. Eventually they did grow out of their awkward alien/bird stage into gorgeous young herons but I will forever be amused by their Albert Einstein-like hair do’s. Below is a highlight reel from their last breeding season. Check out the ET babies for yourself!
I’m still thawing out after being outside for almost four hours birding in various locations along the river. The winds were absolutely biting today which made the potentially balmy 39 degrees feel more like 12. In any case though it was an extremely productive birding trip as the Bald Eagles were out in force today. Most of the river had frozen over except in the area near a local damn so we got to see some incredible birds. Birds of prey in general are a highlight of any of my birding trips but getting to see this many Bald Eagles (23!!) really made my day. We saw birds varying from full adults in their glorious white head and butt splendor to extremely mottled juveniles in varying degrees of white, brown and tan. Today’s trip though really hit home how I want to invest in a stronger zoom lens. Getting a zoom lens that goes up to at least 800 will be a huge investment – easily $2k which is out of my reach right now. I got into photography because I wanted to take pictures of animals and birds so eventually I think I will end up with a better lens. Until then though, I will keep taking pictures with what I have. Here are some shots from today’s excursion.
I have been following a post by the Raptor Resource Project concerning my beloved Decorah Eagle parents that has me a bit distressed. Apparently the Decorah Eagles have started to build another nest approximately 300 or so yards from the nest we are accustomed to viewing them in.
Alternate nest building is a common behavior among bald eagles. The Decorah pair hasn’t displayed this behavior before, but other pairs have two (or even more!) nest options in their territory. The Raptor Resource folks provide a nice informational overview in their blog post about this behavior. I was unfamiliar with this phenomenon until I read this information so I’m fascinated to learn more about why bald eagles would put that much effort into multiple nests.
My concern is that, given the timing with the breeding season and the camera work already in place for streaming the nest site, if the eagles choose the alternate site for the 2012-13 season we will not be able to watch them rear their babies. 😦 I would be majorly bummed if we have to wait an additional year to watch my favorite eagles. I guess we will see what happens. No matter what though, I want the eagle parents to have a safe and successful breeding season.
I haven’t been able to go out birding in about two weeks – weather and then the plague have put me in a position where to go would have been less than enjoyable. However I have very much been needing my bird fix regardless. I started wishing that the Decorah Eagle cam was back online again. The nest cam of course will not be turned on again until the next breeding season. So I have to make due without for a while which is really hard.
I wandered over to the nest cam site anyway and was going through some of the video clips that they posted from the 2012 breeding season. Just thought I would share one that I found amusing. Poor Mom eagle totally coated in snow. She is such a good mom though – making sure those eggs stay nice and toasty.
I have been making an attempt to get out more, in terms of like not staying inside at my computer all day every day. I am also trying to get beyond my super amateur birder status so I am practicing identifying birds in the field as much as I can. A friend and I went to try and see Bald Eagles along the river at a birding hotspot. Unfortunately for us the eagles were not out and about much which was a bit of a disappointment. We did see three juveniles but they were quite a long ways off. We also saw one adult soaring above the trees but again, at a great distance. My goal for the day had originally been to be close enough to see their striking eyes so that is something I will have to pursue another time.
However, we had great luck along the river with other bird species. I for one greatly enjoyed watching the Cedar Waxwings near the dam. They were flying and looping and twittering all over the place while they caught insects above the water. They would return to the trees hanging over the water and eat their catch. The flock was easily ten individuals or more all hunting together right in front of my viewing concrete slab. I have never seen Cedar Waxwings in person before and they were spectacular. Their feathers didn’t look like feathers – more like a velvet cloth. I was not able to get a very detailed photo of them which was a major bummer for me. I took quite a few pictures of some of the other birds along the water though. Along with the Cedar Waxwings, we were able to document Double Crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Turkey Vultures, Herring Gulls, Canadian Geese, a couple of random crows hanging out on the beach.