Canada Goose Lays Eggs In Decorah Eagle Nest, Young Ones Soon To Jump 70 Feet To Ground

UPDATE: Five eggs hatched, and all the little ones, encouraged today by parents honking far below, wandered about on the nest and then jumped over, or slipped as they sought a way down.

Decorah, Iowa eagle watchers had a most eventful and unusual spring season. The long-time eagle couple, which changed last season from using the usual nest of many years to a newly built one where they raised two young ones, did not sit to incubate this year. It left many Decorah watchers perplexed, some even sad.

Another pair of Decorah eagles–the ‘North family’–are super busy with two ever-growing chicks that eat 24/7 and are getting serious feather growth.

But it is the oddity this year of the nest vacated by the long-term couple last year that has everyone talking.

A Canada goose couple landed and stayed for long periods in the nest, and soon speculation abounded about the possibility they were scoping it out for their season’s nest.

The female laid her first egg on March 24, and then five more. Two days ago the yellow-downed chirpers made an appearance. Between those events the female incubated the eggs for about a month, leaving only for very short durations for food. She meticulously covered the eggs on each departure so nothing was visible.

The male is nearby for protection but never sits on the eggs. He gives a bad connotation for males worldwide!

The video below is stunning and remarkable and so worthy of a few minutes of your time. EVERY time the female left her nest this process repeated itself.

The next major event will be (perhaps today) when the goslings will have to jump from the 70-foot high nest, hurling themselves to the ground below. This reads far more dramatically than what happens since they are so very light in weight they will just softly plop on the ground and then follow the parents to the nearby river.

Yes, having a goose in an eagle’s once-used nest is not an every-year occurrence. And to have eagles flying about as the goose laid eggs and incubated does seem dicey. Yet, Mother Nature moved the process along and soon the Decoran fish hatchery area will have some cuties splashing about.

And so it goes.

Decorah, Iowa Eagles Facing Horrible News

The male eagle of the beloved Decorah eagles nest has been missing for several days.  

“He’s out of the area; we don’t know if he’s alive or not,” said John Howe, executive director of the Raptor Resource Project.

Last week’s winter storm might have been a factor. “The weather came, we had the storm, we had mom and dad taking care of the three young, and then we were missing dad the next day after the storms subsided.”

Once staff noticed, they began searching the hatchery area. More than 20 people went out to look, along with the Decorah Fire Department. They used their drone to search in challenging areas.

Some observers happened to spot an unidentified male eagle in the area, who was even flying with the mom. Unfortunately, it’s not Dad Decorah.

Mom has fed the eaglets to bursting multiple times every day since Dad disappeared. Between the hatchery and the stream, she is more than capable of keeping them fed.

Here is a photo from the nest during the massive spring storm last week as both parents worked to protect the young.

Photos: Two Eggs At Decorah Eagle Nest Have Hatched

Too cute. Catch all the adventure with the Decorah Eagle Cam.  Thanks to Laura Getson for the collage pics.

First Decorah Eaglet Of 2016 Season Hatches

Catch all the action on the Eagle Cam.


Two Eggs In Decorah, Iowa Eagle Nest

Watch it all live on the cam.


Decorah Bald Eagles Nest Tree Downed In Severe Thunder Storm

Awful news this morning coming from Decorah, Iowa.


The nest of the famed Decorah eagles and the tree that housed it, known as N2 took a devastating hit in a thunderstorm last night and was toppled as a result.  The storm broke off the eagle nest about twenty feet below the nest. All three young eaglets that fledged several weeks ago are accounted for and one adult eagle has also been seen regularly.  

The larger questions remains to be answered.  Where will the eagles build a new nest? Is the camera equipment and infrastructure ruined?  But we know that the eagles endure all hardships and will build again. We’ll just have to be patient and see what happens as the months continue.

At the time of the storm N2 was not really being used. The young eagles were using other trees to perch, learning their lessons on how to fish and hunt, as well as flight and chase lessons, and it would only be a few more weeks before they will eventually disperse and head off to follow their own destinies.

Still this is a shock and sadness for those of us who have followed this nest and the young birds of prey that have called it home over the years.

Video Of How Decorah Eagles Dealt With Today’s Heavy Wet Snow

Sad News For Decorah, Iowa Eagle Fans

This just makes me terribly sad.


We are sorry to announce that Four, the single remaining bird from the 2014 Decorah alumni to remain in the wild, was electrocuted on Tuesday, March 2nd. This is the fourth eaglet from Decorah that we know of to die from electrocution. Bob and a good friend picked her carcass up on Thursday after the Eagle Valley team notified us that they received a mortality ping. They found her between Keota and Harper in rural Keokuk County, IA. Bob and Brett examined her on Saturday and verified the cause of death.

Bob found her lying underneath a utility pole. He took photographs and sent them to a consultant, who told us the pole was unsafe and made suggestions to improve the safety of this pole and other poles in the area. We brought them forward to Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light and are waiting for a response from them.

Why do the eaglets keep perching on power poles? Bob theorizes there is a behavior difference between urban and rural eagles. Rural eagles are programmed to perch in trees because that is what they have available. But urban eagles, including our beloved Decorah family, are exposed to power poles and other man-made structures from the beginning. There are vast amounts of power poles serving our needs. With eagles beginning to nest in close proximity to man – something new for both species – he believes electrocution will be an increasing concern for urban-fledged eagles and utility companies.