DECORAH, Iowa - Eagle experts with the Raptor Research Project say a fight with a nearby unidentified male eagle who has been seen near the nest is the most likely cause of death for the Decorah father eagle missing for more than a week.
Searchers have looked for the father eagle both on foot and by air, using drones, hoping to find the father ill or injured, but say they have found no sign of the bird.
The mother eagle has been caring alone for the three eaglets since the father disappeared last Thursday.
Given the high density of the surrounding eagle population and number of floaters, or non-breeding adults, intra-species fighting has become a major source of natural mortality for bald eagles. While the panel didn't entirely reject hypothermia or illness, they felt it was not very likely given that Dad didn't appear sick, didn't have green mute stains on his tail, and had previously gone through bad weather, including wet April snow storms, with no problem. They also mentioned electrocution and car collisions as potential sources of mortality, and rejected the idea that Dad simply gave up and left. We found no evidence at all of Dad being shot or kidnapped.
People have been searching the Decorah area since Thursday, April 19 on foot, by car, and with regular and thermal-imaging drones. So why haven’t we been able to find Dad? It is possible that he was carried away by a scavenger or hid himself before succumbing to his injuries - a natural defense instinct to lay low and avoid predators
The public is invited to participate in an online memorial for the father Decorah Eagle on Wednesday May 2.