Decorah North Bald Eagles
The Decorah North eagles are nesting on private property north of Decorah. Their very large nest is located in a white oak tree in a scrap of forest bordering a valley and an excellent stream is located just across a field where cattle are pastured. In general, they begin courtship in October, productive mating in late January or early February, and egg-laying in mid to late February. Hatching usually begins in late March to early April, and the eaglets fledge in mid-to-late June. While young usually disperse between August and October, the adults remain on territory year round.
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We know very little about the adults here, although they are both sexually mature bald eagles that are older than five years of age (Click here for a guide to aging bald eagles based on plumage color and patterns). We think that Mr. North may have been a first-time father in 2016 based on their egg-laying chronology, but since neither of them are banded, we have no way to verify that. We have had the same female on site since we began watching them in 2016.
The nest we are watching now is the third nest built on this territory since 2009. The first nest (DNN0) was built in a pine tree. The branches collapsed after the second nesting season and the eagles moved to a dead elm tree. They nested there for just one year before moving to their current location in late 2013. 2018 will mark their fifth season in this nest.
- 2009: A pair of eagles establishes the Decorah North territory, building a nest in a white pine tree.
- 2011: The branches holding the nest collapse. The eagles build a new nest in a dead elm tree.
- 2013: The tree falls. The eagles begin a new nest in a white oak tree.
- 2015: Cameras are added to the North nest in very early fall.
The North nest is about 56 feet off the ground. It is nine feet long at its longest point, seven feet wide at its widest point, is about 5.5 feet high, and has a perimeter of roughly 25 feet.
Update March 17, 2018 – Sad news for the Decorah North pair – they only laid one egg this year, on February 25, and it looks as if that egg broke or collapsed during the night. Sometimes when a nest fails during incubation, the pair lays a second clutch a month or so later – so perhaps that will happen here.
Update April 21, 2018 – There’s a second clutch! The new eggs were laid April 12 and 15 – keeping fingers crossed for chicks around May 20.