by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
You’ve heard of “The Eagle Has Landed” before. It was a best-selling novel by Jack Higgins in 1975; then, in 1976, a big budget film starring Michael Caine et al, with a soaring score by Lalo Schifrin. The plot centered on the Nazi attempt to capture Winston Churchill and bring him to Germany. It had swash and buckle and derring-do to beat the band.
But you know what? This article on a family of Bald Eagles in America’s heartland is far more exciting, indeed mesmerizing — and I say it who is not known for nature lore or for climbing every mountain.
See for yourself.
Before you dig into this article, go to any search engine and search for the Raptor Resource Project Decorah (Iowa) Eagle Cam. Once you’ve found it (easy), you’ll have trouble shutting it off (hard). I went to have a look; stayed for a couple of hours; went back later and was captivated watching an adult feed the chicks; then (in the middle of the night) back again to make sure all was well. The late afternoon winds had died down; the night was serene and the adult had the chicks under belly, snug and well fed.
My fascination is shared by hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children worldwide, many of whom get so involved in this fascinating story that they pack up the kids and head to Decorah to see the reality show live. So many people visited the Eagle Cam Saturday, April 2, 2011 (over 100,000 that day) that the Raptor Project’s website crashed… it was the only thing that went down that day. Everything else about the eagles and their enthusiastic following was up, up, up.
First hatch 4/1/2011.
What the world and its brother has been paying attention to is this:
First egg laid 2/23/2011
First hatch 4/1/2011… Second hatch 4/3/2011… Third hatch 4/6/2011
This information is posted as it happens on the RRP blog, which under the guiding hand of Amy Ries, one of the dedicated band that runs this show, provides maximum access and information without jeopardizing what makes the project enthralling: ready, close-range access to the eagles… without spooking the raptors and making them anxious.
Amy’s blog entry for Friday, April 1, 2011 was characteristic:” Eagles incubate for roughly 34-37 days, according to a number of online sources. Last year, the Decorah eagles laid three eggs: one on February 5, one on February 28, and one on March 5. The first eaglet hatched on April 3. This year, the eagles starting laying eggs a little earlier, but had the exact same spread: February 23, February 26, and March 2nd.” Then follows a clear, well-written post on eagle incubation, including a detailed answer to the questions inquiring minds want to know: who takes care of the eggs better, male or female?
The answer: “The female eagle incubates more, but the male shares incubation duties as well.”
Blog comments left by the faithful are numerous, enthusiastic, heartfelt, and revealing. Many queries are left about just what the eagles are eating for themselves and feeding the chicks… about how the chicks are faring… about whether the eagles and their eaglets are all doing well. The Raptor Project turns humans of any age into concerned friends, god parents and adopted relations. These parent eagles and their adorable (and they are) chicks touch us, each and every one. We want them to do well and our concern is palpable, sincere, highly credible to us and good to know, since we humans are the greatest menace to the eagles. After all, it was only the other day that eagles were almost gone.
Bob Anderson to the rescue, doing more than his bit for raptor preservation.
Though many have helped in the development of RRP, one person above all deserves the kudos. That person is Bob Anderson, the executive director, Founding Father, with a distinct resemblance to Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo. He first provided his first public feed of bird cams in 1991. That was from a falcon’s nest mounted halfway up an 800-foot-tall electric plant smokestack in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota.
He launched his first eagle camera in 2003 at another power plant in Colorado. He pointedly set up an osprey cam on Earth Day 1993, to remind folks that important as RRP and its work is, it is but a part of a global problem we ignore at our peril. He has never done so.
As for his beloved eagles, they have perched in a tree behind Anderson’s “mission control” operation; (a garage lent by Willard and Mary Ellen Holthaus) for 5 years. He knows their fascinating habits well. The male eagle, for instance, is markedly smaller than the female; the gal he’s with now is his second mate. They seem contented and are certainly prolific.
Too much of a good thing?
For years, many years, Bob Anderson and a few friends and supporters labored tirelessly, hardly known, the work hard, exhausting, and obscure. The Internet and streaming video changed all that forever. The raptors Anderson wanted to save and preserve now became, as they are now, the acknowledged stars of a production with mind-boggling visibility, popularity, and renown. At any given time, over 100,000 people are viewing the raptors at home. There have been, so far, more than 30 million views…
Founding Father Anderson is pleased of course. These majestic creatures, the very symbol of our great republic (since 1782) should be seen and appreciated by all. Above all birds the eagle must thrive and soar. But here there are dangers, too.
The website crashes too often; well-meaning visitors cut through the yards and lawns of the good, so-far uncomplaining citizens of Decorah and vicinity, turning Anderson into a diplomat. New equipment is needed… and new conservation projects need funds. And all this must be accomplished without disturbing, frightening, or threatening the eagles themselves. That above all.
A couple of bucks would help. Like so many of our essential non- profit organizations, crucial to our entire way of life, RRP has done wonders with very little. This can only work so long. Frankly, sending them a few bucks would cost you little and ensure the continuing success not only of Raptor Research Project but the eagles at its center.
As for me, today I shall check in at Raptor Cam. I was worried yesterday that the littlest chick, perhaps the newest born, was somewhat neglected during feeding time, and I want to see for myself that all is well.
Note: Send your tax-deductible contributions to
Raptor Research Project ATTN Bob Anderson, Executive Director 2325 Siewers Spring Road Decorah, Iowa 52101-7501
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About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at worldprofit.com and JeffreyLantArticles.com
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