Minnesota Eagle Cam Update

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Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program Eagle Cam Update

 Hello and Happy New Year!

 As most of you are aware, we turned on the live feed to the eagle cam on Nov. 18: Give to the Max Day.  We are grateful for the outpouring of support through comments and donations since then.  We really need and appreciate those donations, so thank you!

Since November, both birds (presumably the parents from last year) have visited the nest quite regularly.  The larger bird with the band (likely our familiar female/mom) has been at the nest almost daily.  Both birds have brought prey to the nest and either shared or eaten it themselves.  They both like to rearrange sticks in the nest and bring new "furniture" and decorations into the nest.  Our fans like to call this making "nestorations!"  These behaviors are indicative of pairing and brooding behavior -- meaning they will probably lay eggs soon. 

 The pair is likely the same two birds we’ve seen for the past four years, and it seems they’ve learned their lesson about nesting too early.  We hope, for their eggs’ sake, that they wait until at least February to lay eggs, but it’s up to them, not us. 

 The birds are definitely protecting their nest as well.  One night, the camera caught an owl sitting in the dark, in the nest. A large bird scared it off.  Then, just yesterday, as we were panning the camera around looking for action, a turkey head appeared.  As we readjusted the camera back to the center of the nest, "Mom" came in and knocked that bird, hard!  Pow!  No more turkey in the nest! 

 Welcome back for another exciting year of eagle nesting! Keep watching, and we’ll keep you updated regularly about happenings throughout the season. 


 An antidote for the winter blues

Coping with the cold, short days of winter can be depressing. Imagine how Minnesota’s wildlife must feel this time of year! Their fascinating strategies for coping with winter can be observed by intrepid Minnesotans who are up for a visit to a local state park, scientific and natural area, or just their own back yards. It might just provide an antidote for the winter blues.

Most people are familiar with the strategy known as “hibernation” to make it through winter. Little brown bats, for example, spend their winters deeply asleep, or hibernating. True hibernation is deeper than normal sleep. Many body processes slow to a crawl or stop all together. This strategy allows critters like the little brown bat to go without eating all winter. That is how hibernating bats survive the long, bug-free Minnesota winter.

Hibernation isn’t the only way to make it through the polar vortex, though! Like humans, some critters stay very busy during this season, spending most of their time finding food. Small, mouse-like mammals called voles, for instance, tunnel through the snow eating grass, bark and other plant matter. You can often see their tunnels in the snow when it melts a bit.

For yet other animal species, winter is the most important time of year. Bald eagles, mudpuppy salamanders and owls keep busy from mid- to late-winter nesting, laying and brooding eggs, and tending their offspring!

A few critters handle winter in a more exotic and fascinating manner by wholeheartedly embracing the cold. Some Minnesota animals have evolved the ability to freeze, then thaw out come spring. Wood frogs, tree frogs and woolly bear caterpillars spend the winter tucked under a piece of loose bark, dead leaf or other out-of-the-way spot, frozen solid. These critters can survive something that would kill most other species, and this ability has allowed them to live well into the Arctic Circle.

Like what you read here? Want to learn more? Your MN-DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and the educational products it provides (including the popular Eagle Cam), are made possible by donations from the public. Please give today: