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Sunday, July 31, 2011


*photo by Kathie Rebman

Yesterday on July 31, 2011 about 8 or so Iowa time, the Decorah Eagle Ustream  cam shut down. Was the public notified of this event? Yes and way in advance. I was one of the 203 million viewers who watched the birth of the three bald eagles and the loving care given by the parents for a period of four months. Seeing it come to an end last evening was a time of sadness and yet a time of knowing that the eagles [now grown big] will soon be off on their own flying away at least one hundred miles away from the nest. And each will have his or her own life; we all found out that when Bob Anderson, the director of Raptor Resource Project, caught and banded one juvie eagle that it was a female--E2. Not only did she receive a band but also was fitted with a transmitter; her movements have been tracked and will constantly be monitored by Bob Anderson.

At their birth they were given the names of E1, E2 and E3 for their birth order and E standing for eagle of course. Did I ever think I would get hooked on watching a live web cam day and night? No way but I did. Aside from watching this event I was also on live chat where I learned so much information about eagles that I don't need to google a thing at this point. The chat had strict guidelines as well as twelve moderators who kept everyone in line and also taught us much.

Members of Raptor Resource Project took videos and posted them on you tube. Watchers, like me, took photos of eagles on our computer monitors and sent them in for others to see. Now there is a wealth of remembrances of those four months as well as the farm on which the cottonwood tree is located:  In that tree is the nest that the dad eagle built. Smart for he built it near a trout stream and a fish hatchery: Nirvana for his female mate and the three eagles. We watched daily as the routine of fish drops happened in the nest and the scrambling of the three eagles to get the fish first. It took a lot of fish every day to keep them nourished. And the eagles got water from the fish and stored it in their bodies.

As the three eagles got bigger, it took more fish to satisfy them and probably still will. The parents have to teach them hunting and fishing skills before they are ready to fly away for good. At a certain point, the three eagles will not be allowed back in the nest period. Dad will stand firm on this point.

All three are huge, flying and have weathered many storms and are prepared for a long life full of wonderment. But E2 is the hungriest of the three [she is the banded one and fitted with a transmitter] and who knows when she will leave for good? She knows she has it made for now as do the other two.

These four months have been such a blessing for not only did I learn about this bald eagle family from the start but garnered information and made many chat friends with whom I now am in contact with by email. I was sad to see the cam shut down for it means no more till next February when the parents will have a new clutch of eggs--and then it will start all over again with the watching and learning and being enamored.

The bald eagle is our national symbol and its image is found on our coins and paper money as well as on our national seal. Course you already knew that as did I but were we really aware of it? Maybe not till this all happened in Decorah, Iowa of this year. I will definitely miss the daily and nightly watching of what was and will hope that all three eagles survive their journeys. The photo is a real one of a "juvie" eagle and this eagle is big with a six foot wing span now as are the other two. It along with the others won't have a white head, yellow eyes or white tail till it is four to five years old. So you might think you are seeing a vulture when it really is a bald eagle.

All good things must come to an end fortunately or unfortunately. But I would like to thank Bob Anderson again for letting all of us watch his project--what a ride it has been! More people have watched this live cam than any other live feed ever: It set a worldwide record! No wonder!! Catch it next year and be prepared to be completely hooked and involved. You won't be sorry for you will be grateful and will appreciate the "little things" in life for that is what truly matters after all.

Sherry Hill

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