Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006: More questions

There have been several questions about sibling mating and what might prevent it; tough question! In the late 1960's and 70's, when eagle numbers were greatly depressed, there may well have been some interbreeding due to the lack of alternative partners. But that has all changed with literally thousands of immature eagles currently occupying the centeral and northern Atlantic coastlines. Most of our immatures leave Maine their first fall and wander for the next four years, often returning to Maine in the summer months. Others overwinter here when there is an abundant and predicable source of food throughout the winter. For example, here in Orono, at Pushaw Lake, there is a small group of mixed aged eagles that attend the ice fishermen on a daily basis. Anglers regularlly place pickeral and perch on the ice for the eagles. Young eagles are mixing continually during these years and it is unlikely that siblings would encounter each other much during this period except, perhaps, occasionally if they visit their natal area. It is also possible that siblings recognize each other after several years and there is some innate process that discourages interbreeding.

As with most bird species, female eagles select their male partners. With many species, males have established territories and advertise their wares with colorful plumage, displays and song; females then make their choice. Not so with eagles, pairing appears to occur between their 4th and 5th years during times when immature eagles are continously interacting with each other. Recent information, based a great deal on osprey research, suggests that the male then escorts his mate to his natal geographic area. She, in turn, does the final nest tree selection. Theory says that since the male is the prime food provider during the nesting period, he makes the territory choice based on food availablity. Here in Maine we have a great deal of data on former eagle territories and actual nest trees. In the 80's and 90's, as our population grew and new territories were established, we were amazed at the number of old territories that were reoccupied, even 20-40 years after they had been abandoned! Old nest trees, decades after nests had disappeard, were used again. Obviously, there were aspects of these territories that the new male recognized, probably food availability, such as runs of anadromous fish (e.g. alwives). The female, in turn, selected many of the old nest trees that still afforded strong limbs for nest support, easy access and good visibility.

We have limited data on dispersal and nesting locations of our own immatures. One bird Charlie and I banded as a nestling in Ellsworth (Hancock County) ended up breeding along the north shore of New Brunswick. It was 27 years old at its death, the 2nd oldest banded eagle ever recovered! Another breeding eagle we radio-tagged in the Bar Harbor region 15 years ago was banded as a nestling in Michigan and this year, we read the band number of a breeding adult in northen Maine that was banded as a nestling in New York. These are just few examples of the geographic mixing that occurs in our northeastern population. I suspect that it is typical, promotes genetic exchange, and sibling pairing under normal conditions is rare, at best. One last observation highlighting the extent of continental eagle movement was a recording by Mark during his PhD work. He was able to read the band number of an eagle feeding at one of his winter feeding stations in coastal Maine; it was from Saskatchewan!!

Finally, who was that bird seen at the nest on July 15th? I suspect it could have been a former nestling from that nest just checking things out once it was safe to come near. The nest has been productive for the last 14 years so there are a number of immatures out there somewhere. If you check our first eagle image from the 5th of February you will see another visitor. Charlie related to me that he has found several fledglings dead under eagle nests (not their own). There is probably some attraction to all eagle nests for youngsters and if they blunder into some resident adults it may be tough going. Our eagles mate for life and are at or near their territories most of the year. The chances of another individual or pair taking over that site would be very rare. -- Bucky Owen, Unniversity of Maine emeritus

48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bucky, thank you for your answer. However, did you see the question re George and Martha from DC area? They had been in nest for many years -- how is it that another eagle could beat up on Martha as badly as she did -- and why didn't George protect her? Do you have any knowledge of this, or since you are in this field at least a theory?

Thank you.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, there are ten "old" blog entries from us attached to the "old" biologist's journal.

Can't wait to read Bucky's new biologist's journal to see if he answered our questions!!

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bucky. VERY much!! :-)

For those who are still worried about Little's food supply, and those who think maybe the parents are "weaning" the youngsters, here is a quote from Charlie's last journal entry.

" As long as the family group is together and disturbances are minimized, I doubt that inadequate food will be a factor at this stage. Little seems to occasionally get the edge in food squabbles. Which eaglet prevails at any given feeding might only reflect which one is hungrier. When both are content, indeed there is harmony at the nest. They will lay prone in the nest less and less as time progresses, and eventually time spent at the nest diminishes.

I know you miss seeing the adults, but their absence from the nest encourages the fledglings' development. As noted before, one or both are usually watching carefully from a nearby. For example, I once watched an eaglet alone in a nest for 4 hours with no adult in sight, when an osprey circled twice overhead. The eaglet gave an alarm cry, and both adults were chasing away the intruder within 15 seconds ... but I had not seem them at all until that moment of need! The fledglings are usually inept at catching food so adult eagles will continue to make food drops at the nest or at other locations frequented by the fledglings."

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bucky,
Thank you so much for your informative post. I have learned more than I ever thought possible about eagles since I found this wonderful eagle cam. One thing I am disappointed about is...you, or Charlie, have never answered the one question that most of us have asked repeatedly. HOW LONG WILL THE EAGLE CAM REMAIN ON? And, will it be back next year?
Thank you again...I'm still hoping to hear that someone has seen both eagles in the nest after that terrible fall the other day.
Rhode Island Friday 1:20 ET 7/21

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, another thank you...

This newest information was so far above and beyond the call of duty. I never knew and feel honored to have such insight about your ongoing research and these wonderful creatures!

There certainly is a sense of camaraderie amongst all us "parents" and your continued willingness to share information amazes me.

As another blogger said so very well, "'See' you all next year."

3:04 PM  
Blogger Susan S said...

I know we can be a bothersome lot, but I was anticipating that perhaps some of my angst over the little brother getting enough food would be addressed in today's notes.

Several of us have comented about the face-offs in the nest and the little one hanging his head while the big sister ate. Do I have to wait another week to know? I don't know if I can bear 7 more days, so if SOMEONE could post a P.S. about the little one and where he gets to eat, and why he just seems to pick at the food when he is alone in the nest...it would be greatly appreciated. Lucky Landowners, have you seen anything?

Also, WHY is mother taking the food away from the kids? It seems only she is doing this, and the dad is making the food drops.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

07/21/06 3:35..........Bucky, Thanks you for taking the time to explain. I will explain to my daughter or let her read your comment, she was the one who wanted to know if siblings mated. We have so enjoyed this eagle cam and have learned sooo much. Living right beside the Kennebec in Augusta we see eagles quite frequently and we already look at them differently. I got a good close up at "Little" this am and he looks done the worse for his fall yesterday. They have been at the nest twice today but haven't seen anyone feed them yet. BEV

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

QUESTIONS -- PLEASE ADD TO THIS AND CARRY IT FORWARD

I like to carry questions forward and make them prominent. They are hard to go back and find later on.

--> However, did you see the question re George and Martha from DC area? They had been in nest for many years -- how is it that another eagle could beat up on Martha as badly as she did -- and why didn't George protect her? Do you have any knowledge of this, or since you are in this field at least a theory?

--> One thing I am disappointed about is...you, or Charlie, have never answered the one question that most of us have asked repeatedly. HOW LONG WILL THE EAGLE CAM REMAIN ON? And, will it be back next year?

--> Several of us have comented about the face-offs in the nest and the little one hanging his head while the big sister ate. Do I have to wait another week to know? I don't know if I can bear 7 more days, so if SOMEONE could post a P.S. about the little one and where he gets to eat, and why he just seems to pick at the food when he is alone in the nest...it would be greatly appreciated. Lucky Landowners, have you seen anything?

--> WHY is mother taking the food away from the kids? It seems only she is doing this, and the dad is making the food drops.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the Hancock eagles have actually fledged? They seem to be home most of the time.

But I guess with their great weather (our babies could have used a little of their sunshine), and having doting parents there is no hurry to leave.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the sound, the camera views, when they'll go off the air, and whether they will be back next year are probably questions for BRI and/or the BRI web master. I don't think the biologists who answer the eagle/eaglet behaviour type questions have anything directly to do with the technical part of the eagle cam operation, etc.

Maybe we should have a list of BRI type questions! The web master WAS out in the field but maybe he's back now.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

July 21st. Thank you very much for your informative response to the questions and concerns posted during this week! Now, if you could just, please, reassure us visitors/surrogage parents that Little is getting enough food, that would be very nice (understatement?!). Also, my three cats would like to know how long this darned cam is going to be on, but I hope there are no plans to cut off the 'supply' as yet ...

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a big article in my paper about this site and I have logged on for two days and I have not seen any eagles. Have they left the nest for good?

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Linda Rae Osborne said...

I MISS SEEING THE "BABIES". I CHECK ON THEM EVERYDAY.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Lena said...

Eagerly I clicked on the journal notes tonight. I just love learning all this great information. Perhaps when the cam time comes to and end, as all wonderful things do, a link can be provided to further journal entries. Thank you.

9:45 PM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

5:45AM (EDT) 7-22-06

Both siblings have been in the nest for just under an hour - no food drop, hence no fighting. They probably would like breakfast but personally, I hope no food is brought in. Looks like Little just flew off - maybe to find a parent to follow until a meal is caught. (grin)

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sat July 22
8:53 AM

It looks as though they are both eating, and they are not fighting. Amazing. I didn't see what happened when the food first arrived, or who brought it. Checked the image as they were standing side by side eating together.

Still can't believe it. Had to turn on video for a minute to be sure. Yep. They're eating, side by side. I don't THINK one of them is a parent. It looks like two eaglets, from this distance and this angle. WIll be interested to see what others report.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sat Julyl 22nd 9:28

For quite a few minutes two eaglets were at the nest. One is eating, on the ocean side of the nest, one is sitting on Little's favorite branch.

I didn't see food dropped, or them arrive at nest, or anything before this.

Now the one on the branch has hopped onto the nest, and in the next shot it was gone.

I took a quick look at video while they were both there, and they both appeared to be eaglets, the one farther away behind the one on the branch clearly didn't have a white head. At times I could see the head very well.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure this information has already been given but I can't find it anywhere. How large is the nest? It seems lately we are only getting the distance views of the nest. When Big and Little are in the nest, I only get 2 dark birds on my screen but can't see any detail. I would much prefer a closer view. Especially when they are feeding.

9:42 AM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

7-22-06 (EDT) 10:18AM

Big was in the nest eating about 9:45 - got up onto cam side branch and Little, who'd been flying around the tree and in the area chirping, finally landed. Ate scraps - Big flew off, then Little did same but returned. Dad came in and Little mantled even after dad left - ate for nearly 30 mins in that mantling position.

Constantly chirping - hope Big doesn't hear and come to see what's up. They both need a few peaceful meals.

~~~~~QUESTION~~~~CHARLIE/BUCKY - anyone.

Is there any research done on if there are both sex eaglets if male follows dad, female follows mom - or just whomever is handy?
Thanks much.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

7/22/06 10:15am EST

FINALLY...1 eaglet is in the nest preening. I just wish that I could see the 2 of them together in the nest one more time to know that all is well with both of them.

SusanS...Just in case you missed it in the other blog about the eagle donation link:
Look in between the two "Live Video" and "Live Video 2" buttons and you will see Click here to support this project in blue :o)

I have one question. If the juvenile "stranger" we have been seeing visting the nest is a past offspring of this pair of eagles, will they tolerate it being in and around the nest site?
Can they recognize and know their past brood?

Lori In Maine

10:23 AM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

10:33AM (EDT) 7-22-06

Mom came in a few mins ago and MAY have left food but not certain. Little mantled (automatically I guess), and then (I PROMISE IT LOOKED THIS WAY TO ME)seemed to use his beak to cover something up near the truck of the tree (like a dog burying a bone)!!! Then he moved a twig around in the nest and looks as if he's comtemplating leaving - no, he's picked up more twigs near the base of the tree trunk.

Now, he's finished and has flown the coop. Little has LEFT the building! ~chuckle~ and FULL.

So - rest assurded folks - both are well and well fed!!

10:40 AM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

P.S. - my mistake - Little has lied down in the nest to nap, and so must I. *G*

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the eagles eat everything on their plate, that is bones, fur feathers and skin?

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Silver in VA - RE: Martha and George. From what I read, the territories are becoming scarcer here in VA and that's the reason the female tried to take over. Also, as we have learned with this adventure, it's survival of the fittest. If Martha had just given birth, she would have been more vulnerable to the intruder. Even though there is lots of construction in that area, I guess it's a great source of food.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

QUESTIONS -- PLEASE ADD TO THIS AND CARRY IT FORWARD

--> However, did you see the question re George and Martha from DC area? They had been in nest for many years -- how is it that another eagle could beat up on Martha as badly as she did -- and why didn't George protect her? Do you have any knowledge of this, or since you are in this field at least a theory?

--> One thing I am disappointed about is...you, or Charlie, have never answered the one question that most of us have asked repeatedly. HOW LONG WILL THE EAGLE CAM REMAIN ON? And, will it be back next year?

--> Several of us have comented about the face-offs in the nest and the little one hanging his head while the big sister ate. Do I have to wait another week to know? I don't know if I can bear 7 more days, so if SOMEONE could post a P.S. about the little one and where he gets to eat, and why he just seems to pick at the food when he is alone in the nest...it would be greatly appreciated. Lucky Landowners, have you seen anything?

--> WHY is mother taking the food away from the kids? It seems only she is doing this, and the dad is making the food drops.

NEW QUESTIONS SINCE THE LAST BIOLOGIST'S BLOG

--> Is there any research done on if there are both sex eaglets if male follows dad, female follows mom - or just whomever is handy?


--> If the juvenile "stranger" we have been seeing visting the nest is a past offspring of this pair of eagles, will they tolerate it being in and around the nest site?
Can they recognize and know their past brood?

--> Do the eagles eat everything on their plate, that is bones, fur feathers and skin?

4:36 PM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

6:00PM (EDT) 7-22-06
To Anonymous - size of nest - Tonya replied where to locate:

TONYA - in Leeds, ME! Thank you so very much - that helped and I had posted that but another person said it was wrong since he lived on that island. I did post what you suggested (the blog from Bucky Owens).

That caused me to question my other query about the nest - how deep it was and I did locate that as well. Charlie's Journal notes on Feb 15th - and I'll quote for folks here:
This is the 11th consecutive year of eagle residency at this site. Construction of this nest began in October, 2005. In just 10 seasons of use, the nest has grown to a two-level structure: each measures 3-4 feet in width and depth. The lower level appears to be residual debris from the original nest that partly fell after damage to supporting limbs. Our eagle 'cam is zoomed in on the "top floor" portion of the nest to optimize views of upcoming breeding activity.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Tonya said...

Sunday July 23, 7:20 am

Raining at the nest. Both Big and Little are there hanging out on branches. One is one the cam side, and other is on the ocean side. Hard to make out the one on the ocean side. After comparing with other shots of the tree, I am confident that it is the other eaglet.
7:30 It looks like the rain may have stopped. Not sure for how long tho. Cam side eaglet is now in the nest picking at the sticks. He has moved out onto a branch on the ocean side as well. He seem very fidgety. No food drop that I have seen yet, tho it may have happened before I got online.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 2 eagles at the nest it's 8:35 AM EST - one is in the next and the other's on Big's branch. The one in the nest (could it be LITTLE) appears to be mantling food. With the camera at this distance, it's hard to know if these are both the babies OR if one is the parent. Hopefull once again in Hallowell

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry - Hopefull in Hallowell is now sad....the branched eagle just flew away and it was a parent (full white head). Who's in the nest and where is the other baby? Has anyone seen them BOTH at the nest at the same time since the fall? 8:38 AM EST 7-23-06

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry - Hopefull in Hallowell is now sad....the branched eagle just flew away and it was a parent (full white head). Who's in the nest and where is the other baby? Has anyone seen them BOTH at the nest at the same time since the fall? 8:38 AM EST 7-23-06

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the two have been seen together since "the fall" (the second most recent fighting fall!)

Have you looked at the info tech blog?? I think they finally saw two eaglets in the nest at the same time, after the Fall.

Look at page 86 about half way down, Aline posted some still shots of the two of them at the nest at 5:19 AM Saturday morning. Unfortunately we can't post still shots on this blog. Later on the same day other people saw both Big and Little, but I don't know if they posted any still shots or videos of both of them together.

http://forum.infotecbsi.com/viewtopic.php?t=6750&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=2125

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOOPS

That last message about seeing the two eaglets should have gone to Hopeful in Hallowell.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

July 23rd. Sunday morning. There was one lone eaglet sitting on a branch when I first checked in this morning (impossible to tell if it was Big or Little because of the distance), but he or she flew off a few seconds later. I have not seen much of either of them lately -- just my luck, I guess!? In answer to the question about the Hancock eaglets, Victoria fledged on July 12th and Sidney will fledge any day now. Those of us who have been sitting and waiting for that momentous event to take place tend to think that he has been ready for some time already, but who is to know what is holding back the little guy. Perhaps he heard about Little's misadventure on July 4th?

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Hopeful in Hallowell --

Unfortunately the picture on the info tech site that I told you about showing the two eaglets on the nest at the same time has been deleted.

I think it was gone by the time my message to this blog was posted. Sorry.

But a couple people have just posted that they saw two of them this morning. Hopefully you will, too, and soon! :-)

1:30 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Got the book that Charlie recommended...."The Bald Eagle" by Stalmaster....great reading. With some continued activity still on going at the nest it makes the info all the more interesting.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

2:30 PDT eaglet arrived a half hour ago....rooted around nest then flew down to branch on lower left and sat for a while. Flew back into nest then onto rear branch over water, obviously hoping for a parental visit.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:15 PM 7/23
I'm so relieved to hear that people have seen both eaglets together. I have only seen one and a parent since that terrible fall. Thanks for posting that.
I hope they change the view back to a close up I really don't like this view.
Rhode Island

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Silver in VA: Response to one of your questions.

QUESTIONS -- PLEASE ADD TO THIS AND CARRY IT FORWARD

--> However, did you see the question re George and Martha from DC area? They had been in nest for many years -- how is it that another eagle could beat up on Martha as badly as she did -- and why didn't George protect her? Do you have any knowledge of this, or since you are in this field at least a theory?

From The Washington Post, 25 May 2006
"The George and Martha saga made headlines nationwide. The attacker was branded a homewrecker, the episode Brangelina-esque. Biologists attempted to explain above the clamor that the invader was probably looking for a place to nest in a shrinking habitat."

8:26 PM  
Blogger kudzuarms said...

12:04AM (EDT) 7-24-06

Just read a posting about an eagle being saved. Officially known as Bald Eagle #11,600.

Read the short story:

http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/463232.html

What a great man that was.

SNIP:Jay Childress, 37, of Carthage said he saw a fish-hunting osprey diving into the water between Ebenezer Point and Vista Point at Jordan Lake on June 6. A closer look revealed a bald eagle in the water struggling with his claw hooked into a catfish, the osprey's apparent prey.

etc...

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ESTATIC in Hallowell ... both babies are in the nest this morning - I just tuned in and one (? Big) was at the nest with ? Little just flying in from the southeast corner of the nest. WOWOWOW - Big is in the mantling position & Little seems undisturbed by it but remains in the nest bowl despite Big's efforts to keep him away from the food. All's well that ends well, I guess. 5:51 AM on Monday, 7-24-06

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

0930 07/24/06... The babies have been at the nest off and on all morning, but can't see them hardley at all as the cam is so far out. Could you please bring them cam up closer again. Where this is the last few weeks with them I would really like to be able to see them and also take pictures as they are getting ready to leave us for good soon. I did hear about the morning feeding and hope things go well at noon as they were there when I klogged on at 0730EST this am. Thanks again.Bev

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Redetta said...

Monday, 6:50 am
One eaglet at the nest. The view is very long distance so it's difficult to really know what is going on. It's a great area view. Thanks for all the new info!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

5PM Calif. time....just looked in and it is pouring...no dinner tonight at least not at the nest! Hope all the guys are hunkered down under some heavy leaf canopy.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Stormi40 said...

It is 1130 in the morning on Sat., 8/5 and one of the "babies" is in the nest! I'm not sure wich one it is though. I'm so glad that we can still see them every once in a while!!!!

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Marina said...

Saurday, August 12
The nest looks a bit ragged --- was there some damage done by a storm?

9:04 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

9:30 AM PDT Just signing off computer when I checked the site and caught what I believe to be Little on the branch to the left....kept turning his head toward the camera and you could see his keen dark eyes before he flew off.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what I shot shortly after noon today around Skowhegan, ME.
I was on my way back home from a few days in Freeport. To my great surprise and amazement, I spoted 2 eagles soaring, but couldn't stop the car. About 5 miles further, There was a froup of 7 soaring juveniles. It was windy, and they seemed to enjoy it.
My first shot was frantically done, here is the URL to view it: http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h186/Aline5033/Sub%20album%204/Maine057.jpg
But the second shot is much better, I had a little bit more time to adjust and create something interesting with thin clouds as background. Hope you enjoy it here it is:
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h186/Aline5033/Sub%20album%204/Maine058.jpg
I offer these to Biodiversity Research and the biologist who work on the eagle project and all the staff. My best regards and appreciation for what you do. :-)
Aline Paquet, Québec city,
September 8th 2006, posted at 9:00 pm EDT

9:06 PM  
Blogger mcdeane52 said...

It sure makes me proud of Americans, to have brought these majestic birds back from the brink of extinction back to the healthy numbers we now are blessed with! Long live America and long live our National Symbol...

4:29 PM  

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