January 23, 2020: What’s going on with Mom Decorah’s eye?
Everyone is concerned about Mom Decorah’s right eye. On January 20th, sharp-eyed watchers let us know that she was keeping her right eye mostly or completely shut. We saw it as well, but didn’t know what was going on. Mom’s eye wasn’t bloody and she was acting like a normal territorial adult eagle. Some rabbit fur lodged in the upper outside corner of her right eye on January 14 and ice appeared to be accumulating on her ‘eyelashes’ or rimal bristles. Was that the cause of her irritation? We crossed our talons and hoped for the best.
Our camera operators were finally able to get photos of Mom’s open right eye today. We sent them to Dr. Laura, who confirmed our suspicions, although she can’t diagnose the issue or determine its severity without examining Mom in person. Mom is dealing with her irritated eye much like we would: closing her eyelids, blinking frequently, and sometimes rubbing her head on her shoulder. Closing her outer eyelids will help her eye to heal and protect it from the cold winter weather, while sweeping her nictitating membrane across her eye will keep it moist and remove irritants like rabbit fur, dirt, bark, and husk bits.
While we worry about Mom’s eye, she is perching, flying, eating, and living in the treetops and bluffs that make up her world. At this point, we couldn’t catch her if we tried. As of this blog, Mom can fly, land on the nest, hop-flap up to and perch on the Skywalk, and move materials around the nest. We’ll continue to monitor her and collect reports from local observers while we wait to see what happens moving forward.