MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Wildlife reality show

Web cams open a window into lives of eagles, bears and other wild things.

Starr, Valor I and Valor II on the nest.

© Stewards of UMRR

Valor I, Valor II and Starr on the Trio Nest.

In the northeast Iowa town of Decorah, a pair of nesting bald eagles have become an international phenomenon.

Not only do they have a constant stream of live video, but avid watchers are snatching the best episodes capturing the many dramas that go on in and around the nest and posting them on Youtube for everyone to enjoy. 

The Raptor Resource Project posts links to them on its Facebook page, along with regular updates.

In January, the eagles court and get the nest ready. In the last half of February, the female lays the eggs. At the end of March, the eggs hatch, and in April and May, viewers can watch the eaglets grow.

The spring of 2018 was a dramatic one in Decorah. Mom Decorah's three eggs hatched and all was going well until April 18, when Dad Decorah, devoted father to 31 eaglets over the years, disappeared and a UME, unidentified male eagle, began hanging around the nest. After a fruitless search, locals decided Dad was gone for good.

In fall 2018, a new suitor, dubbed UME2, then DM2, came to the nest, and Mom accepted him as her mate. Read the whole story here.

A second webcam focuses on a newer country nest called Decorah North, where the  eagles are known as Mr. and Mrs. North. Typically, Mrs. North lays eggs a little later. In 2018, she laid just one, and in mid-March it collapsed, apparently from a faulty shell. But the pair tried again, and in mid-April, Mrs. North laid two new eggs. 

Both hatched in mid-May, but when the eaglets were five and seven days old, they died due to a strike of black flies that carried a pathogen that overwhelmed their immune systems, combined with heat and humidity.

And sometime over the summer, there was a switch. When Mr. North returned for the 2019 nesting season, he was with a new female, now called DNF, for Decorah North Female.

There's also a Minnesota DNR web cam on two bald eagles in St. Paul. They have produced three eggs a year since 2013, usually laying in mid-February. The DNR shares updates and details on its Facebook page.

There's also a web cam on a bald-eagle nest next to an Alcoa aluminum plant in Davenport, Iowa. Liberty and Justice usually lay their first egg in late February.

On the stretch of the Mississippi River between Fulton and Savanna, Ill., the Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge have installed webcams in several locations.

The original Decorah eagles.

© Raptor Resource Project

In northeast Iowa, Mom and Dad Decorah became Internet superstars.

One is on an unusual bald-eagle nest near Lock and Dam 13, where Hope and Valor tried to raise eaglets. Valor was not the greatest dad, and when another eagle showed up, Hope accepted him as her main mate, and Valor didn't mind.

Hope, Valor I and Valor II successfully raised eaglets, with Valor I eventually getting the hang of parenting. In March 2017, however, Hope disappeared from the nest while fending off an attack from two other eagles, and the Valors successfully raised two chicks while defending the nest from subsequent attacks. 

In late fall, a new, young female appeared on the nest with the Valors. She has been named Starr, and laid eggs in February 2018 and 2019. The two Valors continue to parent dutifully, and their home is known as the Trio Nest.

Another camera is in the Great Spirit Bluff peregrine falcon nest box high above the Mississippi near La Crescent, Minn. It's occupied by Newman and Michelle, who laid four eggs in late March and early April of 2017.

In the northern Chicago suburb of Evanston, there's a webcam on a peregrine falcon nesting box on the Evanston Public Library. Nona and Squawker lay their first eggs at the end of March, with hatches in early May. However, in 2017 they left the nest and have not returned.

For five years, Pebbles and Bam Bam successfully raised young at a peregrine falcon nest box on the Consolidated Grain Elevator in Savanna. However, in 2015, Bam Bam failed to return.

In the northern Minnesota town of Ely, the North American Bear Center has web cams in the dens of its four resident bears, Ted, Honey, Lucky and young Holly, rescued from a forest fire in Arkansas.

Also in Ely, you can watch the resident wolves at the International Wolf Center.

On Isle Royale in Lake Superior, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have posted fascinating journal entries and amazing photos from their long-running Winter Study of the island's wolves and moose.

Do you get impatient between wildlife sightings? For you, there are Animal Planet's puppy cam and kitten cam

Last updated on April 13, 2019