So apropos...our both eaglets fledged on the 4th of July! Jane, one of our viewers provided recordings of both fledging events, which can be viewed at the web links below. I am including Jane's report and Charlie Todd's response. No one was in the nest this morning (July 5), but we expect both birds to occasionally visit the nest from time to time over the next few weeks. After they gain better flight skills, they return to the nest as a convenient place to feed and perhaps even roost for the night.
After fledging the chicks stay in close proximity of the nest for a month or two before leaving their parents and dispersing from the nesting area. As part of my doctoral research, I observed 18 young eagles during this phase of their life. After fledging, the young birds develop their flight skills, but apparently have no interest in learning how to hunt. After thousands of hours of observation, I never saw a fledged eaglet attempt to forage on its own. They fly from tree to tree begging food from their parents. Eventually, the parents get tired of this game and the young birds drift away from the nesting territory. They must eventually learn how to find food on their own.
Where do they go after leaving home? From our banding studies, we know that about 30 to 60 percent travel long distance south along the Atlantic seaboard during their first winter. Young eagles from Maine have often been observed in the Chesapeake Bay region, western Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The balance of the fledged eaglets wander around Maine for their first winter looking for easily-obtained food. About 75% of the eagles survive their first year. By their second or third summer, most return to Maine to stay and eventually nest at age 5 or more. Few of our banded eagles are known to be nesting outside of the state.
Check in on the nest from time to time. You may be rewarded with an observation of "Big" or "Little."
Mark McCollough, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Jane: Yes, I saw this comment in the blog -- amazing reception that these birds have had. Publicizing fledging was bound to create lots of concerns. Landowner assures me there is no eaglet on the ground, and I've asked him & neighbors not to search the woods for a potential rescue: better to let the adult eagles take care of that task / keep the family bond intact. It's quite foggy on the coast July 4 - July 5 am so not likely there'll be much movement there until clearing. I may get to fly that area today so will try to get visuals on the birds. -- Charlie
From: Jane Edwards
Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 1:18 PM
To: Charlie Todd
Subject: videos of Eaglets leaving eagle cam nest
There's a web page that keeps up with the Maine eagle cam and they evidently have been watching the video constantly, because they can go back and compile tapes from it. That issue aside, I thought I'd forward to you the departure of "Big" and "Little" from the nest. Hope you can "play" them on your computer.
I looked at "Little"'s departure very closely on some other video that showed clearly what happened. He flew up, trying to get back in the nest, but he landed on a branch that was way too small for his talons to grasp and get a grip on. When he tightened his talons on it, he spun right around in an upside down position, and then he let go and fell head down. Hope he's okay.
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