Saturday, February 22, 2014

Just How Did the Decorah Eaglet Manage to End Up Outside the Egg Cup of the Nest?

All is currently routine.  The two Eaglets and the last egg are in the bowl or egg cup of the nest.  Dad is in attendance.  Dad seems to see something and heads towards the eaglets.

 (Yes, the folks I contacted and some other readers as well confirmed what I thought I was seeing, so here we go.)
  And as John Blakeman said, Dad is perhaps pondering whether to remove a bit of left over egg shell or something.  Eaglet stands up higher.
 And as Dad continues to ponder, eaglet leans in closer.
Beak widening...even closer.  
(Note Dad's head is still perpendicular.)

Eaglet grabs one of Dad's face feathers. 

Eaglet pulls.
Dad jerks a little to the right and eaglet falls still holding on, nearly her full weight hanging from that feather on Dad's face.  (That could shoot pain through your head.)
Dad's head instinctively goes further up, as does the Eaglet, even worse.  Full body weight pulls down on Dad's face.

A human analogy just struck me. 
 Guys if you're squeamish or shy, skip the next paragraph and scroll down to the next picture.

The human analogy being when a baby who has just had a first tooth erupt from the gum decides to clamp down with it on the mother's nipple as when teething, pressure makes the discomfort better for the teether. The immediate innate impulse of the mother is to jerk back, which hurts worse which causes her to reflexively want to throw the baby in the opposite direction.  Which might just happen if the baby were hanging there as eaglet is about to be on Dad's feather.  Whereas we hope, the mother being a controlled thinking human who doesn't necessarily only live on quick reflexes as eagles do,  resists this impulse.  
 Dad almost jerks himself off his own feet.  Eaglet hangs in midair.  She is not letting go.  Well, not yet anyway.  Second Eaglet in the bowl is laying low.  Good plan.
Momentum finally dislodges Feather Puller and... flump into the dry grass.
Dad first looks where Feather Puller should be. 
He then looks where she actually is.  As Robin of Illinois pointed out, "Who says birds don't have expressions". And look at his body language.

Dad appears to mull this. 
Eventually Dad looks off the nest and if one is anthropomorphizing, the thought occurs that he might be thinking, "What is the wife going to say when she sees this?"  or  "Where is she when I need her?"  Though he is likely either making eye contact to touch base with mom or just checking the  perimeter for interlopers.

By this point both eaglets have begun to beg loud and hard.
So Dad does what he can.  Even if one Eaglet isn't in the right spot you can still feed them.
He feeds both.   But Feather Puller keeps vocalizing.
Still no Mom.  Well, that egg can't sit uncovered forever.
Dad sits on the egg cup and waits.  Feather Puller remains alert. Does she feel anxiety about not being in the right place? I think so as she does keep vocalizing.  

I didn't get a capture of it, but when Dad was getting back into the nest Puller was grabbing at his tail feathers.  If she'd latched onto one as he went on, she could conceivably have gotten herself back on the nest using Dad's steam  and that trusty grip with her beak.

No way to get an answer but I wonder as Puller isn't under him if Dad has chosen to put his head opposite where she is so there won't be a replay of the earlier activity.  No way of knowing but Dad is no dummy.

Now for Mom's grand save, go to for the arrival of mom and her resolution of the problem!

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne


Sally said...

That eaglet is lucky he landed in the nest! Plucky thing. I think it was hungry. Before it grabbed Dad's face it was looking to be fed. Their aim isn't too good when they are 2-3 days old and wobbly! Poor Dad looked to realize his problem but had no solution.

Karen Anne said...

Mom saves the day!