Decorah eagle home for the holidays

D1 spent three months this summer above the Arctic Circle before flying back to Iowa

Orlan Love
Published: December 24 2012 | 2:00 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:45 am in
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Christmas may be is just another day in the life of a bald eagle, but D1, the parapatetic offspring of the world-famous Decorah eagles, is home for the holidays.

D1, who spent three months this summer above the Arctic Circle, “was right in downtown Decorah on Saturday morning,” said Raptor Resource Project Director Bob Anderson, who has used a satellite transmitter mounted on D1’s back to track her many thousands of miles of wandering since she left the nest 18 months ago.

When Anderson switched on his receiver Saturday morning, he said he got a strong signal right from his kitchen table on Locust Street in Decorah.

That signal increased in strength and maxed out as he drove across the Upper Iowa River on the Fifth Avenue bridge, where he spotted D1 perched in a tree overlooking the river.

“It’s completely amazing that this same eagle, which spent three months this summer in Polar Bear Provincial Park on Hudson Bay in northernmost Ontario, Canada, is again back in Decorah,” Anderson said.

Anderson photographed D1 from a distance, but she spooked when he drove closer in an attempt to get a better image.

“This is good. She has a fear of people that can only help her in life,” Anderson said.

D1, which signifies Decorah first satellite, was fitted with a satellite transmitter July 12, 2011, to help Anderson and other researchers learn what becomes of young northern eagles after they leave the nest.

Last year D1 took a four-month, 900-mile tour of Minnesota and Wisconsin before returning to Decorah on Dec. 28.

Anderson said he doubts that familial bonds have anything to do with her attraction to Decorah. “At this point, if she returned to the nest, her parents would probably chase her off,” he said.

Earlier this year Anderson fitted one of the 2012 hatchlings with a satellite transmitter. That eagle, dubbed D14, rarely strayed far from home. It was electrocuted in late October near Rockford, about 50 miles southwest of its natal nest at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Another of this year’s hatchlings was also electrocuted. D12 was found dead July 1 at the base of a power pole near the nest at the hatchery.

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