Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

note: hat tip to Ellie Elliott (@EllieElliottFDL) at for turning my attention to this beautiful piece.

On July 1, 2012, the oldest of the three 2012 Decorah Bald Eagles died tragically in an accident. The eaglet was only three months old, and was found electrocuted at the base of a power pole in Decorah, Iowa.

A small tribute seems hardly enough for this magnificent bird that we watched from the time it hatched to its first branching to its first flight.

Rest in Peace, D12.

Decorah Eagles – D12 has Fledged – Flown from Tree – 06-13-12

American Bald Eagle:

Before you read, please have a look at these three photo links. They are photos of Freedom and Jeff:

1. Affection of Freedom and Jeff by catsbow on flickr.

Freedom and Jeff By —=.O.=— n777jc —=.O.=— on flickr.

Jeff and Freedom by artistgal on flickr.

The Story of Freedom and Jeff

Freedom is a female American Bald Eagle that came to the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Arlington, Washington in 1998 as a baby. Jeff was working at the center when she arrived. She was unable to stand, with both wings broken, covered in lice, and emaciated.

Jeff took her to a vet in a converted dog carrier. She had surgery on one wing, that was broken in four places. She cannot extend that wing, and could not be released back into the wild. Jeff was always around her. He says:

I used to sit and talk to her,
urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay
there looking at me with those big brown eyes.
We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

After more than a month of tube feedings, Freedom still could not stand, and the center made a decision to euthanize her if she could not stand in a week. Jeff did not want to go to work on the Thursday before they would euthanize her on Friday, but he went anyway. The center was all grins. Jeff went immediately to Freedom’s cage, and she was standing. She had decided to fight.

The center director asked Jeff to glove train Freedom and to get her used to the jesses used in falconry. They began to do educational sessions and appeared on TV and radio shows.

In the Spring of 2000, Jeff was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He went through eight months of chemo and lost his hair. During this time, he visited Sarvey, to take Freedom for walks. He says,

I missed a lot of work. When I
felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey
and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would
also come to me in my dreams and help me fight
the cancer. This happened time and time again.

In November of that year, Jeff was told that if the blood cancer was not gone after eight rounds of chemo, the last resort would be stem cell transplant. They did the tests, and they notified Jeff on a Monday that the cancer was gone. The first thing he did was to visit Freedom at Sarvey:

So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and
take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty
and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her
up, and we went out front to the top of the
hill. I hadn’t said a word to
Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me
and wrapped both
her wings around me to where I
could feel them pressing in on my back
(I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she
touched my nose with her beak and stared into my
eyes, and we just stood there like that
for I don’t know how long . That was a
magic moment. We have been soul mates ever
since she came in. This is a very special bird.

Jeff explains that when he is out with Freedom they are sometimes approached by people who are sick, and she has a powerful healing “hold” on them. A man who was terminal held her and his knees nearly buckled.The man swore to feel her power course through his body. Jeff and Freedom have had many similar experiences.

Jeff says, “I never forget the honor I have of being so close
to such a magnificent spirit as

Jeff and Freedom have been together all these years, and if you look at the beautiful photos, you can see that they are bonded together emotionally and spiritually.

From RRP:

raptorresource First fledge confirmed the morning of 6/13/12, although we don’t know who it was!

From Sue She on YouTube:

Published on Jun 13, 2012 by Sue She
The view of what was happening at the nest at the time of first fledge for the 2012 season. Official fledge time was 750am cdt. On video, note the flight at 7:45:18 cdt.

Exciting times!

The Decorah Eagles Live Cam link:

The fledgling’s muscles are strong enough to sustain flight, but the bird is still dependent on the parents for continuing care.

Source- wiki- Fledge.

If you see a “web page not available” error screen on the videos, please refresh the page.

Decorah Bald Eagles Ustream Livecam:

The Livecam link:

This morning’s branching confirmation, where Eagle D12 goes to the Y-branch and back to the nest:

D12 on Y-branch with Mom, 6-9-2012:

The Decorah Bald Eagles are very close to being on the wing!Bald Eagle flying is a process with steps like exercising the wing muscles (wingercising). The eaglets wingercise at the edge of the nest cup. This process takes some time. At the same time, the flight feathers are developing. Next in the process is hovering and then branching, where the bird sort of hop-flys to a branch and back to the nest. What will happen next is that a puff of wind will catch them, and they will find themselves in flight.

This morning, a panner happened to be present to film the eagle D12 (the oldest of three) branching.

Raptor Resource Project states:

Questions of the Week
When will they fly?
Learning to fly is a process. They are currently wingercizing. This entails flapping their wings and hopping. Late in the wingercizing phase, a gust of wind will lift them accidentally, and they will hover over the nest because their muscles are strong enough to hold their wings in the correct position and their flight feathers are long enough to sustain the lift.
Branching comes after that. Branching is defined as a small hop and lift onto the closest branch. Unless there is a panner present at the time, we will not see this first very small journey away from the nest to the branch.
Fledge or first self-propelled flight away from and back to the nest tree comes last.
The whole process last 10-13 weeks.

Click here for Decorah Bald Eagles Live Cam.

Last night at midnight, an owl visited the nest quite suddenly. Mom and Dad were not amused, and they reacted with calls and posturing. Everyone in the nest is fine. This is not Mom and Dad’s first kick at the can (see next video depicting the same scenario last year):

Decorah Eagles Owl Intruder at Midnight 4-14-12 11:52pm CDT

This is not the first time. Last year, the owl intruder visited more than once. Here is a clip:

Decorah Eagle gets attacked by Owl Second night in a row