Minnesota EagleCam Update - Where Are the Eggs?

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minnesota department of natural resources

EagleCam Update

Feb. 16, 2018

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of eggs


All of January and now Valentine’s Day have come and gone, and still no eggs in our favorite eagles' nest.  There are many theories “flying” around about what is happening with the famous bald couple.  We hope today’s update will help to answer some of the questions that have been coming in. 

Who's your daddy?

The female at our nest is definitely the same one we’ve seen at the nest for the last six years. She’s banded, and that band number matches what we’ve seen here in years past. The male, however, is likely not the same bird that has fathered our eaglets in prior years. He may not even be the same one we saw at the beginning of the season. We just don’t know for sure, because none of the other adult visitors to the tree have been banded. Behavior and physical characteristics help us identify unbanded individuals, but with a lesser degree of certainty.

“Mom” is favoring one of the male visitors and the pair has even been spotted mating in the nest. It's rare to catch this on camera!  Courtship activities, such as bringing in sticks, rearranging them, offering food, vocalizations and feeding each other are common nest activities we’ve witnessed.

Waiting for warmer weather?

Timing seems to be late for reproduction; it’s definitely later than usual for this nest.

Here’s when the first egg appeared in the previous five years we’ve been watching:

  • 2017: Jan. 28
  • 2016: Jan. 25
  • 2015: Jan. 19
  • 2014: Feb. 14
  • 2013: First week in January

With today’s temperature not expected to reach 20 degrees, the later timing for egg arrival should be beneficial for incubation and chick survival. Typically, eagles in Minnesota lay eggs in March, so maybe our pair is just marching in step with other eagles in our frigid state for a change this year! 


Only 32 days till Spring . . .

The recent brief spells of warm weather have many people looking forward to spring here in the North Star State. While the season officially arrives on March 20, for many Minnesotans, the real arrival of spring is marked by the season’s first sighting of an American robin. But a February robin in Minnesota is not necessarily a sign of spring at all. Often it’s just a testament to a hearty and rugged bird that, like most of us in this state, possess the fortitude to stand up to Old Man Winter. Bold North indeed!

Like many other birds, some robins will stick around all winter, as long as there’s food and adequate shelter. For the robins that do fly south to places such as Mexico and the Caribbean, it has more to do with easy availability of food than with cold temperatures.

Winter robins here usually hang out in sheltered areas. Unlike in spring and summer, when their mating needs make them more territorial, they gather in large flocks. They move around from one area to another, wherever they can find trees and shrubs still bearing the berries and fruit that make up their winter diet. Sometimes these berries can begin to ferment and produce alcohol that actually causes the birds to get a little tipsy!

For the robins that migrate, the journey back to Minnesota will soon begin. Robins have several triggers that tell them to head north. The increasing daylight triggers hormones that urge the robin to establish a territory, mate and raise young. Waiting on the spring thaw and favorable south winds, the robins develop a restlessness that ornithologists call zugunruhe, a German word that comes from zug (migration) and unruhe (anxiety).

When you first hear a robin singing, that’s a real indicator that spring is just around the corner. Male robins sing to establish territory and lure females for mating. Their songs, coupled with increasing numbers of robins in the area, tell you that warmer weather is coming soon.

March is the robin’s peak migration month, so be on the lookout for the signs of spring. And if, in the meantime, you start to feel a little bit of your own zugunruhe, consider getting outside and visiting one of Minnesota’s state parks to see what else is stirring.

Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program 

The  EagleCam and associated technology are paid for and maintained by the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which is largely supported by voluntary contributions.  Recognized as one of the most successful programs of its kind in the United States, the Nongame Wildlife program helps hundreds of Minnesota species through habitat restorations, surveys and monitoring, technical guidance, and outreach and education  – critters such as bees, butterflies, songbirds, loons, frogs, turtles and bats, as well as eagles. Donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program are matched dollar for dollar by the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) license plate fund. They’re also tax-deductible.  Learn more at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/index.html.