DNR Eagle Cam Update

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Hello Eagle Cam fans,

 It was a fantastic day at the nest yesterday! We banded the famous eagle cam eaglets without incident. All three chicks are healthy and thriving.  The parents seem to have this chick-rearing thing all figured out now, and there have been no injuries to the eaglets. Here are some facts about the banding yesterday:

  • The chicks were measured and fitted with light-weight silver U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bands that will help identify them throughout their lives.
  • There are two female chicks, one male.  
  • Their weight is estimated between 5 and 6 pounds. Chicks are banded at this age because they are old enough for the band to fit their growing legs, but they’re too young to jump out of the nest when approached.
  • The chicks were not harmed and the parents will not abandon them. The adults have invested too much time to leave their chicks. If there was even a small chance of abandonment, we would NOT attempt banding.
  • While banding was taking place, the parents were busy defending the nest, keeping other birds and eagles away, and closely watching.
  • The female eagle has been wearing a band for more than five years and is estimated to be about 9 years old.
  • A private bander, Mark Martell, and staff from DNR Nongame Wildlife Program did the banding.
  • The chicks will leave the nest or “fledge” sometime in mid to late June.
  • Xcel Energy provided the bucket truck and crew to retrieve the chicks. Xcel provides this service to the DNR each year without a fee. DNR extends sincere appreciation to Xcel, without whom this project could not have happened.
  • This research is paid for by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/nongame/donate/index.html.
  • Photos, stories and updates are available on Nongame’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/MinnesotaNongameWildlifeProgram.
  • A composite video of the event can be viewed on the DNR web site.

Data for each bird was sent to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which coordinates and stores bird statistics from many banding stations and individual bird banders. More than 40 million birds have been banded since the program began, and about a million are banded each year. The federal agency also keeps records of banded birds that have been recaptured, recovered after death or observed after being banded. About 65,000 such reports are received each year.

Information from banded eagles provides ways to investigate such things as the migration routes and navigational systems of the birds; the effects of pesticides, toxic chemicals, nuclear-plant radiation and other factors on the environment. Banding enables biologists to get information they could acquire in no other way. Studying the birds as individuals tells us how each bird lives.

Ospreys, eagles and other hawks banded in the last decade have provided significant data showing that the health and reproduction of these raptors were directly related to the amount of pesticides and toxic chemicals in the birds' habitats.

From now until fledging, the eaglets will be busy learning from their parents, stretching their wings and "branching."  We hope you've enjoyed the cam this year and remembered to donate on your tax forms or online!  We truly rely on these donations to keep our program up and running.  With the steady decline of donations over the last decade, our program has been limited in some areas.  We are very grateful for the generosity of Xcel Energy and Mark Martell for providing their expertise and equipment for this project at no cost. Thank you to everyone involved!

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Time to get out and experience nature firsthand

Viewing the eaglecam is great fun. But with Spring having finally arrived, it’s a great time to get outdoors and experience nature firsthand. 

One of the things you’ll likely notice across southern and central Minnesota is the loud chorus of frogs. Male frogs call in order to attract a mate to breed with, calling to advertise their fitness to females of their species and to draw them in close enough to mate. Different species have different calls so they can tell each other apart in a crowded pond full of mating amphibians. This time of year they will call almost all day if the weather is warm, and at night they will be so focused on calling (breeding) that observers can usually walk right up to the pond they are calling in and watch/listen.  

Here is what is calling so far:

Wood Frogs – Always some of the earliest frogs to start calling in the spring, this frog species congregates in shallow ponds and pools near woods, even while there is still ice on the pond. Their call is similar to a duck quack, and a large chorus sounds rather like a bunch of feeding mallards. This frog is special because it freezes solid in the winter. Tucked under bark or leaves, the frog stops breathing, its heart stops and it remains frozen solid until spring.

 Boreal Chorus Frogs – These are some of the most commonly heard frogs in Minnesota in the spring. They are a tiny (thumbnail sized) frog with several dark stripes. Their tiny size is often surprising to those who have only heard them because their call is LOUD. The call is best described as a finger running down the length of a comb. This frog can even be heard calling in large groups in city storm water ponds.

Spring Peepers – Another tiny frog with a very loud voice. As their name suggests, they make loud, high pitched “peeping” noises as their call. These are slightly less common than Boreal chorus frogs, but people on the outskirts of towns, where there are woods, have a good chance of hearing this species.

 So take advantage of the warm weather. Get outside. Listen, look, nature is all around!