Friday, March 10, 2006

March 6 notes: incubation begins!

The eagles completed nest building last week. For several days they carried grass, sprigs of pine, and other fine materials to line the center of the nest. After home improvements were finished, the female began laying prone in the nest for short periods of time. Late last week the duration of incubation behavior increased, and we knew that egg-laying was not far away. She remained prone for 30% of the time during a 4-hour period on February 27, but periodic absences indicate that eggs had not yet arrived.

Bald eagles have spectacular courtship displays in the weeks leading up to egg-laying. They soar to great heights, lock talons and cartwheel at dizzying speed to the earth, breaking apart just before they hit the ground. They may chase each other, lock talons, roll together in the air, and continue their tandem flight. These behaviors are part of an annual courtship ritual to strengthen the pair bond and encourage mating. Copulation may take place on the nest or a perch nearby. During the last week, we often heard the eagles vocalizing from the nest tree, but out of view of the camera. Our eagles were discreet, and we didn't observe mating. We suspect the couple spent a romantic weekend somewhere on the coast of Maine!

By the morning of March 6, both birds were at the nest for extended periods of time but still left for varying intervals. Charlie stopped at the USFWS office that afternoon to pick up several eagle carcasses sampled by Steve Mierzykowski, our contaminants biologist. We tuned into this web site and were thrilled to see that the female had resumed incubation posture in the nest. A clear, starry night revealed the adult's white head in that same position long after sunset. Nothing had changed by first light March 7. It seems certain an egg was late March 6!

Management comments: Some observers of nesting eagles get the mistaken impression that they are no longer present when, in fact, incubation is underway. One member of the pair is almost always attending the eggs and out of view. Its prone posture is usually not visible from below. The mate may be ranging widely for food or watching nearby but is also less conspicuous to most. Seasonal privacy near the nest is their priority and a good strategy for those who want to co-exist with nesting eagles. -- Mark McCollough, USFWS, and Charlie Todd, MDIFW

29 Comments:

Blogger EUSEVIO WILLIAM GARAY said...

This is by far the most amazing thing I have seen. I am so intrigued and its such a gift you've given all us watchers.
-taylore kelly

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Jeewhiz said...

Sunday morning April 9th at 7:30 a juvenile eaglet (I couldn't see his head, but nothing else could be that BIG, could it?) sat on the limb right beside the nest, the one that curves around. It was eaglet size. I see a lot of eaglets, living in an essential habitat, Maine BE251-A . We have many of all ages on the Sebasticook River here, from our nest in previous years)

I heard screeching, but it wasn't the loudest, close together or most alarmed screech. If it was the incubating eagle he or she didn't raise her head to screech. She had her head lowered right down into/over the nest as if to cover as much of it as possible. I don't know if her mate was nearby screeching or flying over head screeching or what. I don't think it was HER.

Eventually for no particular reason the eaglet flew off and the incubating eagle shuffled his or her feathers and snuggled down adjusting the brood patch over the eggs. She wasn't full settled over the eggs while this went on. I think she was trying to look bigger and cover more of the nest bowl.
After the eaglet left, she kept looking around in every direction to see whether the juvenile was coming back.

From the coloration it appeared to be last year's eaglet, a one year old. All brown/black, no blotches, no white. I got a good close up of the tail end! The tail feathers didn't seem very long, I think the wing feathers came down longer than the tail feathers, if that tells you it wasn't an eaglet. But I think it was.

All has been peaceful since he flew off and I haven't heard any chattering or any other indication that the second mature eagle is around. Crows cried out when the eaglet flew off (which would be typical, around here)

Jane Edwards
Winslow, ME

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:16-1:19 pm 4/25/06

the mother was feeding the little rascals. Two of the babies were lined up in front or her and one was behind the two. She only fed the front two. the one behind looked like he/she had a smaller head. I wanted to reach in there and give him a push. I hope he makes it. Jvixen, NY

1:23 PM  
Anonymous tonia said...

Hi! I am from Minnesota, and this is so exciting to watch! I have always had a love for great bodies of water, and wild life, and to come across this page has really been a thrilling experience, especially now that there are 3 chicks! Thanks for this site!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were very fortunate to have had a pair of eagles nest in a tree on our property, & watched as they raised 2 babies! They weren't scared of our dog barking at them when they flew over, or the vehicle noises or our daily acreage living. The tree they nested in was about 20 feet from our garage & yard, in our ravine, so we could see them very well. It was neat seeing what they brought home for food. Then when the babies were born, we watched as they kept making their nest larger as they grew, by throwing out pieces of sticks. They exercized their wings & practiced to fly, by jumping up & down from branches above the nest. Then came the big day of the first flight for one of them!! He was so unsteady but they kept encouraging him to fly & circle. The biggest problem was when he wanted to return to the nest but was afraid to land! He really cried when he saw food being brought home to the other baby!! Finally he swooped down & crashed into the nest!! They sure can cry alot!! Both grew & left the nest as we watched them. Unfortunately, one day the wind blew their nesting tree down. The adults flew around, crying & carrying sticks, looking for their nest. We couldn't even find pieces of it, it broke apart that much. We still have other eagles nesting in nearby acreages & they fly over all the time, we feel very blessed to have those beautifull birds so near to us. They are magnificent!! We live in the Cowichan Bay area on Vancouver Island, BC.
Betty & Ken Reese kaddyken@shaw.ca
April 26/06

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On April 25 or 26th the two older eaglets seemed to be moving about the nest instead of being under the adult. It was quite a sight to see!! The oldest one even stretched its wings, and stretched its head up as if to be looking up and over the nest : ). Again today (4/27 at 1 pm EDT,) I saw one of the bigger eaglets next to the adult eagle to the left, rather than under the adult. This is a wonderful experience to be able to enjoy. I live in Michigan about 5 miles from Lake Erie, and we occassionally see eagles, apparently they are starting to nest along Lake Erie again...Good for us Michiganders!!! Thanks once again for the Eagle Webcam.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a way to save the two smaller eaglets from the bigger bully? I know nature must take its course, but this guy needs a time out!

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like only 2 eaglets are left. Yesterday I saw a lot of calling from the eagle on its nest as she was lying down. What was going on? Could it have been grief over the loss of #3?

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Apr 27,I saw a large eaglet grab a smaller one with its beak,& shake the little one....which no longer moved. Was this eagleticide?

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can still see three there, but the parent sure favors feeding one over the others. It's now spreading its little wings and moving around a lot! Hurry back, Mom or Dad!

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me it looked as though the eldest killed the smaller one.Thrashing it around and pecking at it.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On April 27 at approximately 5pm I saw the bigger eaglet attack the smallest eaglet. At first none of the adult eagles were in view, then an adult perched on the branch while the attack continued. After the little one appeared to stop moving, the adult went into the nest and picked up the little one and tossed it to the side of the nest. It then looked like she(?)threw a stick over it. It was very sad to witness this event. I also regret writing this comment (and wasn't sure whether to submit it or not!)Today (April 28) I see only 2 feeding eaglets.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4/28 7:32 pm I noticed today that I was only seeing 2 eaglets, and after reading some of the comments I see why...nature sure is cruel, but I suppose it is survival of the fittest. Does anyone know if this is normal behavior for eaglets to attack smaller siblings. I was hoping that all three would make it, but I guess not.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible he/she was feeding the two larger chicks with the (I find it hard to say) third chick's remains? I know it's "nature's way," but it seems so sad ...

8:51 PM  
Blogger MagnoliaSouth said...

Thank you so much for making this viewable to all of us. This has been a real pleasure to watch. I'll continue to watch it, as long as it's available. :)

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get a kick out of logging on from time to time to watch the progression of these great creatures. I guess you could call it a true form of "reality tv." I too happened to log on when the little guy was being tossed around by it's older sibling. I was disturbing, and I was hoping a parent would fly in and save the day. Nature is cruel, and I guess it might of happened for a reason. Maybe it was sick or there would not be enough food for all to survive. I was hoping no little children were watching because it was sad to see.
On a happier note, it appears that the remaining two eaglets get along nicely, and I look forward to checking in on them until it plays out.
Has anyone been on when both parents are at the nest? Every time I log on, it's either one parent visible, or none at all.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 1st, It looks like the bigger of the two eaglets has now targeted the second baby to pick on. I saw it pecking at the second eaglet, and now the smaller of the two doesn't appear to be trying to get close enough to the adult to get fed. When the adult was feeding, the smaller one was turned the other way away from the feeding adult. I am hoping the two eaglets make it, but I think the bigger one seriously wants to eliminate any competition for food, and there may only end up being one surviving eaglet in the end. It is sad to watch, but this truly shows how nature works.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5/1 10:55 PST
This is just the most amazing CAM. I am enthralled. It also sort of teaches a sad lesson on survival of the fittest.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5/2/06 - 4:25p

Does anyone know why the two chicks are different colors? Does the fact that the submissive one is still yellow mean he/she is not getting enough food.

Has anyone seen the mate?

This is an amazing cam, but a little sad also seeing how cruel nature can be.

Thank you all for your comments.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 3rd. In response to the person who asked, "has anyone seen the mate," I have seen both eagles at the nest several times. It is often when the eagle on the nest calls, the other one will appear. That happened this morning about 6:45 am. The adult on the nest called, and the other landed on the nest, then hopped up to the curved branch, stayed for a short time and took off again. I too noticed the difference in color in the two eaglets. The oldest one is darker, and the other is still a light color. The lighter colored one does not appear to be getting fed much, if at all. Does anyone know if the young eagles eat anything by themselves yet. It looks as if the adult moves a carcass around in the nest once she is done feeding the eaglets. It is not the carcass she is using to feed with at the time, but it sure looks like it is the remains of something that she moves around. I have seen this a number of times. Thanks again for the opportunity to watch nature live. CS

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen both parents there at the same time a few times. I think the father was actually sitting yesterday, although I'm just learning about Eagles and don't even know if they share that duty.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 3 1:00 EDT I wonder what was going on this afternoon. I came home from work and was watching, and the adult eagle in the nest was screeching. I saw another adult eagle land in the nest, and the original adult in the nest continued to screech, then the other flew away and in just a minute or so, another adult came back and landed on the curved branch. That one stayed awhile then flew away and the first adult (the one originally screeching) got out of the nest and sat on the curved branch. I wonder if the two that came to the nest were two different eagles. Are other adults (not the parents) a threat to the baby eagles? It was an unusual situation today. Did anyone else see this? CS

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was told that late last week or early this past weekend the larger baby eagle threw the smallest one out of the nest. Too bad. Could see this coming, or being starved or pecked to death. Why Couldn't the smallest chick have been removed soon after hatching and hand raised? I know it is natures way, but am I the only one who didn't believe that all three would survive in the nest?

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 3...the smaller of the two eaglets finally got a few morsels of food!!!!!!!!!! About time that bully stayed out of the way.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a naming contest for the babies? I suggest "Sluggo" for the elder and more aggresive one.
Any other entries?
Paul from Plymouth.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 3rd @ 7:00 pm. Again a lot of calling and screeching. One eagle in the nest and another on the higher branch just the bottom portion of the bird visible on the webcam. Then for the first time I saw both parents in the nest with both of them working on the nest, moving branches, etc. Both adults stayed in the nest even as it got so dark that as I watched, I could just barely see 2 white heads. I wonder if there has been a threat to the nest? In the past I have not ever seen both adults stay in the nest at the same time.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5/4/06 - 9:10 am

I got a good look at both eaglets this morning and both look healthy and growing. And I too saw the both parents last night for the first time at the same time.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that you have readjusted and zoomed in the camera. The video is great!!!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A naming contest is a good idea : ) I suggest Brutus for the older chick, and Caesar (as in Julius Caesar) for the youngest. As we know Brutus plotted to kill Julius Caesar. It does appear tho, that once the eldest eaglet has had his fill of food, he does then allow the younger to eat. I did get to see the younger eaglet getting fed again this morning : ). I am really beginning to understand the idea of "pecking order," and I guess this is natures way of making sure that at least one baby survives when there is a limited food supply. CS

11:51 AM  

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