Decorah eagle "D1" returns home for the holidays - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Decorah eagle "D1" returns home for the holidays

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

Eight months ago, hundreds of thousands of people watched in fascination as three young eaglets made their way into the world. The Decorah Eagles Nest became an international internet hit -- with more than 213 million views so far.

Even now, when the nest is empty, thousands are watching at any given time, and some even drive by Willard and Mary Ellen Holthaus's property to see it in person.

"It's amazing how people are really interested! Even on the holidays, there's slow traffic by here looking up at the nest," said Willard Holthaus.

Meanwhile, Raptor Resource Project Director, and Decorah Eagle Camera founder, Bob Anderson has stayed busy with a side project -- tracking D1, the young eagle Anderson banded before she flew the nest.

"We're kind of plowing new ground. We never really knew what happened to the young eagles that are fledged here in Iowa or where they go. So if this one bird is any indication, they go for a big joy ride!" he said.

Anderson, and the eagle's loyal followers, watched as D1 flew from Iowa, to Wisconsin, even up to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. And he tracked each movement through daily satellite location updates.

"Whenever I open that attachment it's like a birthday present for me. Because I get to see, has she moved?" Anderson explained. "And then the other day I was shocked to see she was on White Tail Avenue in Decorah. I was giddy!"

It appears, D1 decided to come home for the holidays.

"In fact, she's maybe four, three air miles way from us right now," Anderson said. "She covered over 700 miles, and now she's returned home to her natal origin. It's so surprising, it really is."

Anderson said D1's return shocked the scientists he works with, and thrilled the viewers of the U-Stream website.

With D1 so close, Anderson is able to drive to last known location and use a receiver to find her in trees or in area fields. He has spotted her at least once every day, and snapped some compelling images of her growth. He posted a few on the website, and the chat room went wild.

"She's established quite a following!" Anderson remarked. "The whole Decorah Eagle Camera has been, probably, the single largest wildlife education effort on Planet Earth."

Anderson plans to continue posting pictures of D1's time in Iowa -- you can view them by clicking here.

In the spring, he's looking forward to following the next generation of Decorah eagles. He'll continue to stream the nest, and a new set of eggs, live for the world to see.

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