Owls challenge Decorah eagles for nest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Owls challenge Decorah eagles for nest

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This year marks the third year the Decorah eagles will be in their new nest--if they can keep it.

A pair of great horned owls are fighting to claim the nest as well, making for some very interesting video.

Bob Anderson, Director of the Raptor Research Project, said this is uncharted territory for them.

"This is the first time that it's ever been documented that they're trying to drive away a territorial pair," Anderson said. "And only with the cameras would we know that."

In the video, you can clearly see an owl perched in the eagle's nest.  It calls out, and moments later, is scared off by an eagle.  But just seconds after that, another owl knocks the eagle off the nest.  Anderson said the eagle was not injured.

The fight makes for interesting video.  But it doesn't seem fair, at least on paper.  Eagle's are usually two to three times larger than great horned owls.

"The Great Horned Owl is a pretty formidable bird of prey. It's nicknamed the tiger of the air. They'll feed on a wide variety of things, from mice to cats. They can be very aggressive. I've seen them fly with mallard ducks in their talons. They're just a formidable bird of prey, and they clearly have no fear of bald eagles," he said.

So which bird will win?

"I'm thinking whoever lays their egg first will win over the nest, but I don't know that. Any expectations have yet to reveal themselves," he said.

But just laying their eggs may not win the fight.  Anderson said they could continue to fight, which would endanger the hatch this year.  "The eggs could even freeze if that happens," he said.

Ultimately, Anderson said he hopes whichever pair loses out on the current nest will take the eagle's old nest, which is just across the street, and already has a camera aimed at it.

And no matter which birds win out, it's a win-win for fans of the eagle cam.

"If the owls win, it will be the best horned owl cam in the world. Either way, it will be a great way to educate people," he said.


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