DECORAH, Iowa — The three eaglets at both nests in Decorah, under constant watch through a live camera posted near the nests, have been injured in the past few days, including one that needs surgery.
On June 4, the Raptor Resource Project posted on Facebook that eaglet D32 flew from a branch at the Decorah Fish Hatchery nest. The RRP is unsure if the flight was intentional or not. The bird was found several days later near a creek downstream from the nest. The residents who discovered the bird contacted the Iowa Department of Natural Resources hatchery.
Dehydrated and with bites, feather lice and signs of anemia, D32, about 61 days old at the time, was brought to RRP vice president and veterinarian doctor Laura Johnson for treatment. Johnson administered fluids overnight and food the next day.
The bird, which is being treated at Saving Our Avian Resources — an organization that provides raptor rehabilitation, education and research in Manning — will need surgery to align and stabilize a broken bone in the right leg above the ankle.
A sibling to D32, D33 tumbled from a branch June 5 and was located about 15 minutes later. The eaglet’s feathers weren’t long enough to fledge. It sustained bites near its eyes and nostrils and on the side of its head and was also transported to SOAR. An update from SOAR confirms the bird is receiving food and water.
The following day at the North Eagle Nest, eaglet DN9 also fell from its nest where it remained on the ground until its discovery a day later. DN9 was also dehydrated and underweight with signs suggesting anemia and feather lice. Bites were on its head, near its eyes and throat. The RRP Facebook page said its feathers were under formed and sheathed, but its parents were hovering overhead to protect it. DN9 is now at SOAR receiving treatment.
The RRP in Decorah suspects the influx of buffalo gnats is driving wildlife from their nests.
Amy Ries, from Rapture Resource Project, said buffalo gnats, or black flies, are abundant due to the flies laying eggs in cold, running water “of which there is no shortage this year,” Ries said.
While the flies have affected several nests, Ries said they “(drew) the eagles from their nest,” in North Eagle and Hatchery nests.
The RRP is speculating about what to do about the flies. Ries said pesticides wouldn’t last long and it’s unrealistic to treat the nests daily. As they look for a solution, the organization is searching for evidence suggesting if this is a new problem.