Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4 notes: hatching one week away?

This morning there is a brisk southeast wind blowing across the Gulf of Maine and buffeting the stand of pines along the shoreline where the nest is located. The web camera, mounted on an adjacent tree, is having trouble staying centered on the eagle nest. A cold rain will fall later today, and we may even see snow by afternoon. How will the inclement weather affect the eagles? The first eagle egg is due to hatch about April 11 (plus or minus a few days).

Bald eagles are one of our earliest nesting birds in Maine. Only great-horned owls nest earlier. We have a relatively short "time in the sun" here in the north and eagles need to get an early start nesting so they have enough time to incubate their eggs (35 days), raise their young to be able to fly (10 to 13 weeks), then allow the young to perfect their flight skills (another 6 to 12 weeks) before leaving their parents in the closing days of summer. Our eagles layed their first egg on March 6, but we've documented some pairs incubating as early as mid-February. Sometimes we've observed eagles incubating their eggs with all but their heads covered in a late-winter snow.

Long periods of adverse weather can have a detrimental effect on the nesting success for eagles. Last year was a good example when we endured one of the coldest and rainiest springs on record. In 2005 we documented 385 breeding areas occupied by paired eagles. Of those, 48% (183 nests) hatched eggs, well below the 58% average success rate we've experienced in the last 15 years. The poor weather not only affected the hatching of eggs, but also reduced chick survival. The longest period of heavy rain occurred in May when chicks were still in the downy stage and have difficulty keeping warm without the constant attention of their parents. In 2005, 253 eagle chicks fledged from 183 nests. Eagle biologists use the ratio of chicks fledged to successful nests, or "brood size," as one of our important measures of the productivity of the population. Last year brood size was only 1.38 chicks fledged/successful nest, nearly 7% below the average for the last 15 years.

This year our spring weather has been unusually mild and dry - perfect conditions for nesting eagles. Charlie Todd and other state biologists have begun their initial aerial monitoring of all known nest sites in the state and occupancy of eagle nests looks good. Barring no major weather events, we may see a downy chick in the nest nest week. If past odds are a guide, we have about a 60% chance that this pair of eagles will hatch one of their eggs. Keep your fingers crossed! --Mark McCollough, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your dedication and the eaglecam, it's a pleasure to logon and see what the eagle is up to every morning before going to work. I live in Southeast Alaska where we get to see more eagles in one day then most people get to see during their life. I counted 67 eagles flying over the salmon packing company last year during fishing season. We have several nesting near our home, looking outside and seeing the eagles is something we take for granted. This webcam is a good reminder that we should be greatful at the fact that we can look out our window to see 12 eagles walking on the beach to eat fish. With the eaglecam now other people can enjoy the life of an eagle just as much as us Alaskans do...

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Wifeymac said...

Thank you for such a wonderful thing to watch...it is Thursday and it is 2:14 PM....I have been watching in hopes of catching the pair of eagles and just now I happened to tune in as one was calling it's mate, it then took off. Nest was empty for a second or two and the other mate flew in on the branch, hopped down on nest and nestled itself on top of the egg. You could still hear the mate calling in the background. How exciting! I have been out of work since Jan 1 with a broken arm so am unable to send any contributions at this time but please accept my gratitude in sharing this with others...thank you.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Liz D. said...

Fri, 1/7/06 8:30 a.m. I notice that the bird currently on the nest has it's mouth open. Is this a sign of stress, excitement that the egg might be hatching, or just normal behavior ?? Regards, Liz D.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Sun.4/9/06 - At 7:30 am I observed an eagle arrive at the nest and perch on the branch to the right of the nest as seen onscreen. I believe this was a young bird - it's head was partially out of the camera view, but seemed brownish. The sitting bird was not happy, and flattened down and spread its wings over the whole nest. It vocalized the whole time. After 3 or 4 minutes the young eagle flew off.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Wifeymac said...

Sunday 4/9/06:
9:51- Such luck...tuned in to another change over on the nest.
Nesting eagle called out then left the nest.
9:52- Other eagle came to nest and settled in. A longer change over than last I viewed, but still within a minutes time.
I wish I could tell the male and female...are there any outstanding differences?

10:02 AM  
Anonymous jane edwards said...

7:04 AM Thurs

I saw a mature feeding presumably a chick. I couldn't see the chicks head. But there is some form of prey in the nest with her, and I saw her pull off a piece and hold it down into the nest "under" her.

She watched carefully. And that was it. She seems to be eating most of it herself.

I didn't see the food brought in.

WOW. I wish I could see that in my own nest, but this is so satisfying.

Jane Edwards
Winslow

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

observed 1 chick being fed just before 3pm Saturday.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 chicks being fed 1100am Sunday morning

11:06 AM  
Blogger Kathi said...

I work at the Town Office in Ashland, Maine and we have been watching the eagles faithfully. One day we watched as one of the adults was feeding two of the babies. We couldn't see the third chick and then we realized that what was being fed to the two chicks was the third chick. We couldn't believe our eyes! I guess we were "privileged" to see something that happens more than we know.
kathi

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Kayge said...

It is Tuesday 5/23/06. I have tuned in several times today but haven't seen either parent. Is there something wrong?

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked in a few times 5/24- no adult. Now at 7:30 am 5/25- no adult. Has anyone seen an adult lately? Karen

7:48 AM  

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