“She was screaming for him to come and release her and he did.” This is a rather
dramatic way for me to begin a story about eagles, but it happens to be a very melodramatic story. If you’ve been watching this drama, you’ll agree that it has been startling, breathtaking and thrilling. I am referring to the live performance of the Decorah eagles. They are M and D, the initials representing the words “mom and dad” as they skillfully persevered and hatched all three eggs resting beneath them. And, millions of people were able to watch through the bird cam which photographed every second of this event and created a once in a lifetime experience for viewers.
My husband and I started watching only a few weeks ago, and not continuously. Much of
the video taping shows an eagle sitting motionlessly for hours and hours on its nest. Because the camera used is the Night Vision Camera the filming continued through the night.The eagle sat silently, sleeping with its head tucked in its wing,completely unaware of the camera. We were fortunate to catch the “changing of guard,” when one eagle moved in to replace the other. The first thing D did was rearrange and add new materials to the nest, but when M’s turn came again, she arranged it to suit herself.
You may wonder why the fuss over such a normal act of nature. It’s the filming of this event that shows how great a miracle it really is. Given the extreme cold and heavy snows the experts wondered if the eggs would be hatched. The eagles are called Decorah
because their nest is high in a Cottonwood tree in Decorah, Iowa and since the laying of the first egg on February 23, they persevered through 40 below wind chills, direct temperatures of 20 below, drenching rains and multiple snowfalls, one of which covered the nest with over 10 inches of snow.
The eagle has the longest incubation period of any bird. It was 46 days since M & D’s first egg was laid and the final one hatched. Recorded is the evening an owl
jumped on M in the middle of the night. Mom’s reaction was to throw her head back, raise her feathers and squawk in outrage. After the owl fled, Mom and the eaglets settled in for the night. but not until Dad brought some food for M then left for his nearby branch to roost.
Eagles mate for life, but in 2007 Decorah Mom disappeared in a snow storm. His second wife is younger than he is and, yes, eagles can be differentiated by the eye shadow and darker feathers interspersed with the white ones in M’s head and tail. Dad has a fully white head and tail and is noticeably smaller than Mom. Male bald eagles are
normally 25 percent smaller than females. This couple has had nineteen offspring.
After learning of the experiences of M and D, I better understand why M might yell and scream for relief. Her reward was a tiny coot brought in by D. By the way, now that M and D have made it through the sitting period, their eaglets will remain in the nest for nearly three months, even after they look full grown. These bandit masked, bobble-headed babies have had 100,000 computers watching at one time. Websites went viral and 200 million people from 184 countries have viewed this miracle.
On June 20 1782, our Continental Congress adopted the bald eagle as our official national symbol. Though, at one time, they were near extinction, they are now protected and are
quite numerous. Even so, today, only one in ten eagles survive. This new trio of baby eaglets will struggle for their independence, just like our country did. The bird cam has had an impact on people’s lives everywhere. I’m sure one of them is a greater appreciation of our Creator-God.
Go to Decorah Eagles to see this wonder unfold.