Common vs. Hoary Redpoll – a Quest

I’ve been watching a lot of the Cornell Feeder cam lately since my Decorah Eagles chose the ‘other’ nest this season and we can’t watch them. *sob* I miss my eagles. 😦 But there is next breeding season I guess. The Raptor Resource Project said they will be putting cameras on both nests so no matter which the Decorah parents choose we will be able to watch them, which gives me hope.

As I’ve been watching the feeder cam I have learned that there are two different kinds of Redpolls coming to visit the feeder: Common and Hoary. I don’t really have any experience with either of them before this and I wanted to try and figure out which was which.

Apparently Hoary Redpolls are lighter in color, with less streaking on their bellies and flanks. Their face also has a bit more of a smushed look, with a shorter, slighter beak structure. Both species have the cute little red cap on the top of their heads.

For the longest time they looked the same to me, so I didn’t understand what the comments were talking about as far as two versions of redpolls visiting the feeder. Now, after I have been watching for about a month or so, I get the differences. I have also finally managed to procure a semi-decent screen shot of a common and a hoary side by side to show you the difference. These cute little finches are not common by me (too far south) but I am very much enjoying watching them nonetheless.

hoary vs common redpoll

The hoary redpoll is the one on the far right of the feeder tray with the very pale and streak-free belly. Commons are around it on the feeding tray, and hanging on the feeder sock. See the difference?


Nest Insurance – What Every Eagle Needs

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.

D12 fledging last year.

Eagerly Awaiting the Return

The folks over at the Raptor Resource Project recently released this video of Bob Anderson, head of the project, being interviewed about the Decorah Eagle nest cam project. The video also includes footage of the team setting up the nest cam for the upcoming season. I am super excited for when the eagle cam will be back on and I get to watch my favorite eagle family. I cannot wait until they return to the nest! 🙂

Picture of Dad from last season sitting on the eggs March 2012.

Sad News for the Decorah Eagles

Mini post alert!

I am very sad to report that D12 of this year’s batch of baby eagles from my favorite Decorah Eagle parents is dead. They found D12 electrocuted at the base of a telephone pole. 😦 Raptor Resource Project is working with the local power company to adjust the tops of the poles to prevent this in the future.

We’ll miss you D12!!

Missing Baby Falcon

I was greatly saddened to learn that one of the baby falcons of Great Spirit Bluff is missing. I had hoped to get the chance to see all three of these beautiful baby falcons grow up and successfully fledge but that unfortunately will not be the case. The Raptor Resource Project does not know for sure what happened to cause one of the babies to go missing. Speculation includes the possibility of predation by another bird, or perhaps that the baby simply tumbled from the nest box. I believe they are looking to see if they can determine the exact cause of the accident. No matter how the accident happened it is a very sad thing to lose one of these precious little fluff balls.

The remaining two falcon sisters are still growing at a brisk pace. Already both are exhibiting full tail and flight feathers. There is still ample baby fluff mixed in with the newly emerging adult plumage though resulting in a fabulously mottled look. I just watched a feeding and holy wow do they vocalize like crazy. I had to turn the volume way, way down on my computer. Speculation in chat mentioned that feeding times produce aggressive behavior. Could the baby possibly have been jostling with a sibling over food and then fallen when things got a little out of hand?