You may know that last year I started watching a camera site at a bald eagle nest. The season begins with the adults returning to the same nest, as they do as a mated pair for life, sometime in the winter to start cleaning up and preparing for the new family. They start with housekeeping, both removing what they don’t want and adding new sticks to fortify the six-foot by six-foot nest that weighs almost a ton up 80 feet in a cottonwood tree. The tree is on private property in close proximity to the Decorah, Iowa, trout stream and fish hatchery. These bald eagles, like most, are smart and make their nests near streams and bodies of water to ensure plentiful food for their family. This pair has been successful in raising families of three eaglets each of the last few recorded years. It was the same this year while a growing audience of viewers looked on. The Raptor Resource Project (RRP) is a research organization led by Bob Anderson who studies raptors, chiefly falcons and now bald eagles at Decorah. With the equipment installed on private property, the RRP made the viewing of the nest public in 2011 when thousands of viewers surprised Bob and his crew of volunteers with their enthusiasm.
That enthusiasm has only grown, and this year record numbers of viewers flocked both RRP’s main viewing site at Ustream and the site sponsored by the Sportsman’s Paradise Online (SPO). Between the moderated site at Ustream and the chat-friendly site at SPO it was a phenomenal year of viewing this family. While many of our members visited other sites that sadly experienced losses of eaglets, Decorah’s experienced and skilled parents ensured that their three eaglets thrived from ample food from the neighboring trout fishery and their careful oversight. It is such an uplifting experience to watch nature up close like this, and so many of the members of the chat rooms become very attached to the mom and dad eagles and their three juveniles that it is quite emotional when the juveniles fledge (take flight) from the nest and start learning to be independent. That sweet sorrow combined with the personal support I received this year from so many members of the chat room prompted me to try to give something back to this community who are really more like family than a chat room. While this video contains a lot of slides that will bring back memories of moments we treasured this year, I hope that it will give an idea to possible new viewers for the 2013 season, which will start for some early birds in the winter when the adults return to groom the nest. Regardless of when many of us start watching, we all return because, after all is discussed and the three juveniles have fledged, to us viewers it is a love story between this magnificent pair of monogamous bald eagles that compels so many to keep watching. Maybe we think we are nature lovers when we are all just romantics.
© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.