In February of 2011our then eight-year-old son, Hunter, came home with a card that had an internet link typed out on it. Before he even took his coat and hat off, he was at the computer, asking me to help him find the web site. ekspedisimurah
“What’s this for, Hunter?” I asked, because his computer time is still supervised and limited.
“It’s an eagle web cam, Mom!” His voice was vibrating with excitement.
Apparently information on an eagle web cam in Decorah, IA had been shared with students at Aggasiz School in Ottumwa, IA that day. The Decorah eagles had laid their first egg. It was anticipated the female eagle would lay at least one more, maybe two.
What an astonishing experience it was to see the mother eagle, pelted by wind and snow, struggling to maintain her perilous perch on a huge twig nest. The thunder of the Iowa prairie wind could be heard over the web cam microphone, and Hunter and I were both astounded by the force of the wind pounding her. Her feathers were ruffled by its force, and occasionally it would actually lift her up slightly and move her. She would struggle to maintain her balance and her perch on the nest, while doing her best to secure a roosting position over her new egg again.
Either the male or female eagle had carried a rabbit back to the nest, and occasionally the female would tear into the carcass for a bite of rabbit meat, but most of her energy was being invested in protecting her egg. We probably watched her for over a half hour before we headed to the kitchen to start supper.
We, and thousands of people across the nation, spent many long hours through February and March viewing the Decorah Eagle Web Cam. It never got boring or old. There was something new to see every few minutes. We missed the birth of the first baby, but we saw the second one hatched, us and the staff at the Eldon Gothic House Museum, because that’s where we were when the second eaglet was hatched. It was a slow process, for those who assume it happens in a few seconds.
It was more like an hour, and maybe it took more than that, because when we arrived the hatching had already begun. It was thrilling though to see that tiny little eaglet breaking through its protective shell to take that first weak look at the world.
We checked in every day, waiting for the last egg to hatch. We’d almost given up when the following Thursday a crack appeared on the last egg. As with the hatching we saw on Saturday afternoon, this too was a slow process. In the end, the eagle pair hatched three little eaglets.
That’s when the fun really began, when web cam viewers had the opportunity to see the Eagle pair care for their young eaglets. From those early feedings to that day when the first young eagle soared off the edge of the nest and over the Iowa country side, every day was an adventure, and we watched it all, the triumphs and the tragedies.
To add to Iowa’s nature drama this year there is also an Alcoa Bald Eagle Camera at Davenport Works in Davenport, IA. Both the Decorah eagles and the Alcoa eagles are now sitting on three eggs each. Local residents have named the Alcoa eagles Liberty and Justice. Sadly, the Alcoa eagles lost one offspring last year. It seems a testament to the struggles of raising a wildlife (in this case wildraptor) family in the rural landscape of an Iowa winter and spring.
The exciting thing is that this year, if Mother Nature performs on schedule, both the Decorah eagle pair and the Alcoa eagle pair are due to have an egg hatch on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. Hunter and I can’t wait for the blessed event.