Decorah eagles' move to new nest takes them offline

Camera will not capture egg laying or hatching this year

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The world-famous Decorah eagles have moved to their new nest and will raise this year’s young beyond the scrutiny of the webcam that has endeared them to millions, Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, said Friday.

“They have been bringing grass and lining the bowl of their new nest and not the old one” – a strong signal that they’ve made their choice, Anderson said.

Because the new nest lacks a camera and other video-streaming equipment, “the Decorah eagles will be offline this year,” he said.

Pending approval and support from nearby landowners, Anderson said cameras will be installed this fall at the new nest. “Cameras at both nests will ensure that the public will again be able to follow these famous eagles,” he said.

The eagles began building their new nest, about 400 feet from their established nest, in mid-October.

After bouncing back and forth between the two during the winter, they began showing a pronounced affinity for the new one this week, Anderson said.

Jim Womeldorf, who has been observing the eagles from his home about 300 yards from the new nest, said the eagles were busier in the nest on Friday than they had been on any preceding day.

Anderson said the female could lay her first egg of the season during the upcoming week.

Eagles, known as “compulsive nest builders,” often build more than one nest in their breeding territory and will sometimes alternate between the two, according to Pat Schlarbaum, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife diversity program.

Their move in no way suggests a fear of the camera, which has documented their nesting seasons since 2007, Anderson said. In fact, the eagles were copulating at the old nest last week, he said.

Nor does it suggest any fear of the people who have stopped to observe them in their original nest 80 feet up a cottonwood tree on private property across from the Decorah Fish Hatchery, Anderson said.

The new nest tree, just 60 feet from the heavily used Trout Run Trail, is an even more public spot than the old nest tree, he said.

Anderson said he will be seeking approval from nearby property owners to post signs cautioning people to keep a respectful distance from the nest tree.

Anderson said he hopes Decorah eagle fans will use the break to explore some of the Raptor Resource Projects many other nest cams, which focus on other eagles, as well as falcons, kestrels, red-tailed hawks, vultures, herons and owls – all of which can be viewed from by clicking on “bird cams” at the top of the page.

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