Friday, February 27, 2015

Nest Cam Watch Begins Again!

It's the end of February, which means it's once again the beginning of nest cam watch. This is when eagles and owls are beginning to lay their eggs. This can lead to a bit of drama, as the bald eagle couple in Decorah, Iowa, had to fend off a Great Horned owl couple that wanted to move into one of their nests. First one to lay an egg won, and the eagles now have control of the nest. They're now sitting on three eggs, and watchers are hoping the owl couple moved to the old nest (which still has a nest cam). Fort St. Vrain in Colorado has three eggs, as does the DNR eagle nest in Minnesota. A Great Horned Owl nest in Oklahoma City has three fuzzy hatchlings.

If you want to keep up with activities, there's a Facebook page for the Raptor Resource Project, which covers several nests (but the main news is usually the Decorah nest). There is also the Raptor Resource Project website with various links to nest cams. There's also a link to the discussion forums to keep up without having to watch the cams. Fort St. Vrain cam now has its own Facebook group. So does the MN DNR cam and MN Bound.

Peregrine falcons in the Midwest haven't returned to their nests yet, but Clara and Fernando in San Jose have three eggs already. They've had up to five in previous years, so they might not be done yet.

Until the eggs hatch, there's often not much to see, other than one or the other parent sitting on the eggs. But each nest is different. The Decorah couple usually has disagreements about stick placement in the "crib rails", and watchers have decided that Dad is a stick fanatic. He often brings in very large sticks. It's also interesting to catch the shift changes. In the video link Dad takes over from Mom, and you can see him carefully ball his talons so the egg isn't damaged. Since there are still snowstorms this time of year, it can sometimes be hard to watch. Fort St. Vrain has lost chicks to storms in past years and seeing the nest surrounded by snow can be worrying for many watchers.

The excitement for Minnesota watchers has begun with the first hatch at the DNR nest. That nest started in January. It usually takes 35 days until hatch, so for nests like Decorah which just finished laying eggs, fuzzballs won't appear until March. The next egg in that nest should hatch within a day or so, but meanwhile every feeding of this hatchling is watched and discussed.

I've been watching nest cams for a long time, and that experience plus knowing where to find answers to other questions came in handy when I wrote "Search And Rescue", a short story released last August by Amber Quill Press. In it, nest cam watchers report a chick fallen from an eagle nest, and the wildlife rescuer finds a bit more than she expected - a feathered being not seen outside of fantasy.

"Search And Rescue" can be found at Amber Quill Press in several formats as well as at Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, and at Kobo.

2 comments:

  1. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoy watching nesting season and try to take pictures. No eagles nest around here that I know of, though we occasionally see one or two. I haven't noticed any owls either. I put out feeders for the little guys: hummingbirds. We have a lot of other birds, too. Love watching them raise their young.

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  2. Kathryn, I enjoyed meeting you in person - for three years a pen with your name on it has been the most coveted pen in the house. National Pen is your source. Thanks to your pen, my eye was drawn to your author table, and your "Search and Rescue" cover doubled the draw--then I discover your animal rescue themes! Oh, sad to see that your publisher has shut down, and your ebooks are no longer available online. Off to find paper copies!

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