Some good things don’t change much.
The Decorah eagles welcomed their first egg of the season to the nest at 8:28 p.m. Thursday — the same calendar date as last year’s first egg.
“Their biological clocks are unbelievable,” said John Howe, director of the Raptor Resource Project, which provides round-the-clock streaming video of the nest near the Decorah Fish Hatchery.
Howe said the female eagle, known affectionately as “Mom” to many Decorah eagle fans, spent much of Thursday in the nest before going into “egg-laying labor” in the evening.
If her biological clock remains true, she will likely lay a second egg in three days and a third egg in an additional three to four days. With the typical 35-day incubation period, the first egg can be expected to hatch around March 24.
The eagles mated before the 2008 nesting season and have since hatched 23 chicks.
Howe said 3,600 people were logged onto the nest cam before noon Friday — a number he expects to climb rapidly as word spreads about the first egg.
Morning online chat sessions, he said, indicated that “a lot of school classrooms were on line” learning about and appreciating the eagles.
Just before noon Friday, Howe said Mom took over brooding responsibilities from her mate in a “shift change” indicating that the veteran and highly successful parents have resumed their instinctive family rearing patterns.
Howe said a feed from a second Decorah eagle nest is expected to go online soon.
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The second nest, in a secluded rural area north of Decorah, was fitted with a camera and microphones as a backup in case ill luck befell the first nest, Howe said.
The Raptor Resource Project and its partner in the effort, Explore.org, have since decided to stream video from the backup nest.
While most Iowa eagles build their nests in cottonwood trees, the Decorah North nest, as it’s called, is in a white oak tree overlooking a trout stream, according to Howe.
“It’s huge — more than 9 feet long, 7 feet wide and 5 feet deep,” he said.
Howe said not nearly as much is known about its occupants as is known about their intensely studied counterparts at the fish hatchery.
“We know that this is the third nest built in the area in the past six or seven years, but we are not sure if they’ve all been built by the same pair,” he said.
Howe said the Decorah North eagles have been lining their nest with cornstalks and leaves — a sign that their first egg may be arriving soon.
The eagle cams are at www.raptorresource.org. Click on “birdcams” near the top of the page.