Season seven at the EagleCam begins! But, did the 2019 season ever really end? The new eagle couple would probably say “season? what season?”
Bald Eagles have as many individual, distinctive characteristics as they do typical bald eagle characteristics. Some static characteristics are physical: white head and tail on adults; yellow eyes, feet and beak huge, brown wing span. Some are behavioral: they have a mostly carnivorous diet; they have stunning (some say spiritual) flight and soaring abilities, and their courtship, bonding and mating behaviors vary only slightly between pairs. (Here’s the Eagle Cam link) https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html
Because the physical appearance of bald eagles is roughly identical, the individual behavior of eagles helps to distinguish one bird or pair of birds from another. Here at EagleCam central, we were fortunate for the first six years to have a female on the nest sporting a band on her left leg. The camera allowed us to read the band number and positively identify her as the same female – year after year. From 2012 until her 2019 ouster she protected the territory, had stable partners and tended to/maintained this nest. She had different mates during this time period, mostly due to territorial battles, where a stronger male seized an opportunity to replace the resident male – taking over “nestorations”, mating and parenting duties.
Early last year, a new pair invaded the territory and seized control of the nest from the resident female and her mate. It appeared as if the female’s mate was new (different from the previous year) and she was almost ready to lay eggs. Defending her territory and nest was proving too difficult and exhausting, so she abandoned her long-time territory and nest. We have reason to believe that she moved on and layed her eggs in a nest close by and is still alive and kicking.
The new pair have not left the territory much at all since then. Camera watchers and photographers have distinguished each eagle by their physical characteristics – the female’s “bib” appears disheveled and the pair rarely leave each other’s company. They seem to be in close proximity to each other – while hunting, feeding and roosting – most of the time. They have been observed moving sticks, adding grasses and fur, and feeding together on the nest.
The noise, noise, noise, noise!
This fall, we were able to install (thank you Xcel Energy and Floyd Total security) a new sound system and get the microphone working. Hearing the eagle voice is a whole new experience and learning tool. Their voice might surprise you if you’ve never heard an angry or excited bald eagle.
Some background noise from the road, river and sky is distracting at times, but it is exciting to finally hear the whistling sound coming from those large, screaming beaks! (hint: if it gets too annoying, turn your sound off). We hope you are enjoying it!
We continue to be grateful for the generous donations to our program. Whether you make your donations on your tax forms, send us a checks, or donate online, we THANK YOU so much! Bringing a bald eagle’s nest and journey to your living room, dorm room, class room or cell phone is an honor and a privilege. We hope you feel the same way about the eagles and YOUR Nongame Wildlife Program!
Stay safe and warm this weekend, warmly.