Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bald Eagle Research in New England

Hi, my name is Chris DeSorbo, I'm the Director of the Raptor Program at BRI. As many of you probably know, BRI has been studying mercury exposure in wildlife for several decades now. Recently, we've focused a substantial amount of time on evaluating mercury exposure and impacts on Maine's inland eagle population. After over three years of sampling and banding over 300 eaglets throughout the state, we've learned a lot about mercury threats to Maine's eagles - and have set the stage to learn a lot more about a range of topics. Now that birds are getting on nest again, it is a reminder that our time for eaglet banding and sampling is quickly approaching. Since folks are always tremendously interested in how and why we do this research, I thought I would try to outline some of that below. I will start today to give folks a sense of the “how,” and will follow up later with more info on the project background and findings.

A typical workweek starts by packing the truck the night before with a boat, motor, climbing equipment, blood sampling equipment, food, water, and lots of maps. Usually a late night or en route phone call with Charlie Todd (MDIFW) would update us on which birds were old enough for sampling (5-7 weeks of age) based on his aerial surveys the day or two before. Charlie is highly skilled at accurately aging birds from the air from a low-flying plane with a skilled pilot. Once we had our target nests lined up for that day, we (myself and typically 1-2 field assistants) would begin a long drive early in the morning heading for our first nest. We typically arrive at our first destination on a roadside, riverside, or boat launch 2-4 hours later. Many nests were not easily accessible from the road, however; many require hiking, boating, or a combination of the two to get to the base of the target nest tree. The canoe comes off the roof, motor mounted, spare gas can, a lot of heavy climbing and sampling gear is piled in the middle, and off we go. At this point we may be motoring along slowly for 5 minutes or 45 minutes. If we’re lucky, the nest is right along the water’s edge. If not, it’s deep in the interior of some wooded ridgeline, blowdown, or wetland. In the unlucky cases, we’re tromping through the woods with a map, compass, and GPS unit heading the general direction of the nest. We rarely have nest coordinates, as many are first-time visits. Once we’re in the general vicinity of the nest, we walk around the woods looking up the whole time. 95% of the nests are in big white pine trees, and many are not visible from the ground. Once we find the nest tree, I begin preparing my climbing gear and my assistant sets up a station to process birds on the ground that will be clear of falling branches. A picnic of banding and blood sampling supplies and datasheets are all spread out on a blanket on a clear, flat spot in the woods if we can find one. We use traditional arborist climbing gear and techniques to get up the trees. I’m on my way up the tree with rope dangling below me. Within 15 feet, I often leave all the mosquitoes and black flies behind to focus on the ground-based processing crew. Fifteen to 45 minutes later, I’m at the base of the nest. Many trees are 60-80 feet tall, with a few topping over 100 ft. Each tree is different, and I must say, many represent some of the most peaceful, scenic and tranquil places I’ve ever experienced (Can’t beat the company!).

Once the nest is reached, I set up shop to allow me to quickly lower the bird once captured to the processing crew that’s been waiting patiently on the ground among many biting insects. Slow movements and a sometimes lengthy period of allowing the birds to acclimate to my presence allows me to slowly grasp a nestling’s leg and then quickly tip them into my bag that’s splayed out in the nest. Within a minute or two, the bird is standing upright in a bag as it’s sent down through the branches to the ground.

Luckily for us, Bald Eagle adults are generally quite passive and do not attack climbers (unlike many other raptors). There is also little risk of the adults abandoning the nestlings due to our visit, if timed correctly. The Eagle Cam demonstrates best what these birds have gone through (since early March!) to get to the point that their young are 5-7 weeks of age, generally sometime in June. Think of the time, patience, endurance, and energy expended to incubate eggs, and care for young during blizzards, rainstorms, 90 degree days, and blackflies! Like many birds, the more time they’ve invested in their young, the less likely they are to abandon it due to intruders. This again demonstrates why nest visits too early in the season could be devastating without properly coordinated nest visits. Additionally, it is often the case that only one adult ever knows we were there! You gotta wonder what they think when they arrive “home” and see their young are now wearing “bracelets”…
As soon as the bag is within the grasp of the processing crew, the processing begins and we try to get the bird back into the nest as quickly as possible. The bag is unclipped from the rope and immediately weighed. The bird is slowly removed from the bag and placed on it’s feet for a few measurements and banding. Many eaglets are surprisingly calm at 5-7 weeks of age don’t necessarily have the power in their talons to do much harm if they happen to grab onto you. As Charlie often puts it, “they don’t yet know the weapons they’ve got.” We draw blood samples for contaminants and genetics analyses from a vein on the underside of the wing. A few breast feathers are clipped, a few more measurements, and the bird is back in the bag again ready to be sent back up the tree. A little advance notice from the ground crew often allows me enough time to send the second nestling (if there is one) down just as they are finishing the first. We do a quick trade; bird #2 arrives on the ground just as #1 is ready to go back up.

Within a couple minutes, the first bird is back in the nest no worse for the wear, but now displays it’s new leg bands. All birds in Maine for this project have been banded with one silver USFWS band, and one red band with a unique code that is often readable from a distance with a spotting scope and some luck. These red bands have allowed us to see where these nestlings go to after fledging and will continue to provide us with all kinds of data on Maine’s eagle population for decades to come. For example, birds banded as nestlings during a similar project conducted during 1991-1992 are still turning up throughout the state and elsewhere.

Once the second bird has been processed, it is returned to the nest with its sibling. Often times, I open the bag, and eaglets simply stumble out and take their place next to their sibling where I found them. The nestlings are always less tense to my presence after they’ve been put back in the nest, allowing for a quick photo before I duck back under the nest and start rappelling back down to the ground. When I’ve reached the ground, the processing crew is ready to go and we make our way back to the boat, then the car, and start thinking about the next nest up for the day. If it’s not a long drive, and we can potentially fit in 3 or rarely 4 nests in a day. The sun is usually setting by the time we are finishing our last nest for the day, and all we want then is hot food, a hot shower (you’re generally covered in sap and grime by the end of a day climbing trees), and sleep in a random motel hopefully close to where we plan to begin the following day. Unfortunately, there are samples to organize, label and process, and logistics to arrange for the following day. I have never slept so well as I do during this fieldwork.

This is the day in / day out routine of our eagle sampling crews for a roughly six week period during the summer. None of it would have been possible without endless support, assistance and guidance from Charlie Todd (MDIFW). Similarly, Bill Hanson (FPLE Maine Hydro) provided initial tree climbing and eaglet handling guidance early on, and continues to play a major role in these efforts every year. Many thanks are also owed to Steve Mierzykowski (USFWS), and Barry Mower (MDEP), and countless others. What have we learned from the study? That Maine’s eagle nests are not always easy to get to! I will follow-up later with a summary of some of the project findings and interesting tidbits… We’ve learned a LOT about Maine’s eagle population during this study, particularly their exposure to mercury contamination and impacts on the population. As with any good study, however, we’ve raised a lot more questions along the way, and we look forward to continuing to answer them in upcoming years!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all that information.. this is awesome

1:26 PM  
Blogger gigi 1 said...

loved Chris DeSorbo's info. gotta love the web. this is my second year watching,found your site late last last year,eaglets already fledged. why don't you band your eaglets from this nest or do you? i have so many questions, i'll keep reading other blogs to learn.thanks so much for the opp.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/14/07 at 1:35pm
Eagle in the nest became very vocal and took off. Came back a few minutes later and settled back in. Could this be a sign of an intruder in the area? Eagle still seems to be on high-alert. Do they ever sleep while sitting on the eggs?

1:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The eagle was distrubed by a very loud motor and flew off the nest but returned after a minute or so. I was startled by how loud the motor was myself. I hope there aren't bad things happening in the area. I had assumed this nest was far from people and roads.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:45 P.M.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exceptional recap of the day in the life of an eagle attendee....Thank you so much! As a mother, I have one concern for these 'anklets' - do they EVER cause the bird harm in getting caught on something such that the eagle can't get undone and therefore, suffer? PMB

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! What an awesome education about eagle banding and contaminate testing. Except for the black flies, ha-ha, the entire experience appeals to me. What a great outdoors adventure.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 14
6:30pm ET

Changing of the guard took place at approx. 6:25pm. I believe Dad was incubating and Mom came in and took over. Earlier, around 5:15pm, Dad was up and around making whining noises with his mouth open alot. He seemed very agitated. I was worried something may have happened to Mom or the eggs. But Mom came in to take over. Phew!! But Dad still seemed weird when he left... you could still hear him making that whining noise while he was flying. Hmmm. Any ideas??

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been wonderful! My family & I check in several times a day and were fortunate enough to witness the "changing of the guard". It was very exciting for us! They are now a topic of conversation at the dinner table every evening, 'so, how are the eagles doing today?'. Our resident eco-expert has appointed herself 'Official Eagle Reporter' and keeps us posted. She has also decided that her donation this year will be to your project, high praise indeed! Each child gets $100.00 a year to donate to a cause of their choice, they have to do the research and tell us why this cause. This year was a no-brainer for her. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. We are with you in spirit as we count down to Hatching Day!

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad was incubating, then Mom came in and dropped something (looked like a stick.) This was shortly after sunset. The male took off, or maybe he settled on a near-by branch. The female did not bring food when she returned to the nest and the changing of the guard took place. But I have no idea how long the male had been sitting on the eggs. Maybe he fed earlier. Unlike yesterday evening there was no interaction or calling at all. Maybe I missed something. I was only able to visit briefly.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/14, 10:10pm AZ
Eagle very low in the nest, not much of her white head showing. Sounds like a boat in the area again.
Greatly appreciate the long informative article!

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here's a video from Will of a lot of comings and goings at the nest, between four PM and six PM yesterday.

My theory about Dad bringing in sticks to please Mom gets "shot down" in this video!!

Quoting Will's post on Judy's forum:

Wed, Mar 14th, after 4 PM EDT.

"Lots of comings and to see who did what! (5 mins)."


6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:07am CDT
Mom flew in and Dad left the nest. Mom looks overheated as her beak is open. The info you are giving us Chris is very intersting. Look forward to more about the research. Thank you so much.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3-15-07 9:35am EDT

Thank you Chris for your information on banding eagles. This is my second year watching the Maine eagles and I'm enjoying my learning experience. Yesterday I saw two instances where momma was on high alert and left the nest being very vocal and chasing something off. I heard what sounded like crows in the distance. Would crows be one type of predator? What other kinds of predators would the eagles have to fight off??

9:33 AM  
Blogger Mark & Alice Herrick said...

Great information about your work...and the photos!!

I've bookmarked the eagle cam so I can check in every morning. Can you provide any info about the other wildlife in the area? I think I hear crows in the background.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

03/15/07..Chris, great toher from you again. Thanks so much for all the info and the gorgeous pictures. Also have noticed since last Friday that something is haunting the female when she is at the nest. She will get very,very angry screech and take off for 2-3 minutes and come back. My question has been what might be bother her o bad. Where I watch continually ally all day I have kept track of the taking offs etc.... but otherwise they both look great and I also feel that another egg was laid Sunday, but this is just from others info at home. Thanks, again, Chris. Bev

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from Calleigh,

After reading about the banding and climbing up the trees, I want to be biologist and study birds.
I can't believe that she laid her eggs in the cold.
Thank you for putting up the camera so we can watch the eagles lay the eggs and all that stuff.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so amazing to watch. I am literally glued to my computer screen for hours at a time.

Last night about 5:19 PM I saw the female leave the nest, heard the two eagles communicating, and then saw the male take charge of the nest for about an hour until the female returned.

I am so grateful that you are allowing us to be able to have continual viewing of something like this; something most of us would have never had the privilege to see in nature otherwise. What a wonderful display of the revelation of the wisdom and glory of our awesome Creator!

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on the banding of the eaglets. I was wondering how they did that. I love watching the eagles and reading about their family updates. I am fascinated, and addicted to watching the eagles on the webcam. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to watch this amazing act of nature, and the character and instincts that our Creator gave them. I can't wait until the eggs hatch and watch their process of "growing up"! Thanks again and keep up the hard work!

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

their is a storm comeing up I hope she makes it she is soaked.


8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their is a storm coming up I hope the eggs make it.the eagle cam blog has given me a lot of information about eagles.


6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It bothers me (and I am sure I am not alone) when I see people post that they are watching the eaglecam "for hours". We have all been asked to limit our watching to 2 minutes at a time. When people fail to observe that limit, they deny other people the chance to watch for a little while. I may be wrong, but I also believe it affects the cost of providing this service to us. Imagine if every one of us who checks on the cam sent $1.00 each time we log on. The folks at BRI would have far fewer budget worries............

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:08 pst 3/16
For those of you on the eagle web site all day, please get off once in a while and let the rest of us see the eagles too.
We should start charging you each time you violate the 2 minute rule as it keeps the rest of us from looking at the eagles too.
Please share and observe the "2 minute rule"!
Thank you.

11:11 AM  
Blogger D&B said...

Agreed and thank you for mentioning all those out there who are abusing the two minute Eaglecam and watching ALL day long.
We cannot seem to connect today for whatever reason and am somewhat concerned.
Everyone watching the Eagles nesting, please do as advised and limit your visits to two minutes only,each time.
3/16/07---12:20 p.m. DST

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Chris DeSorbo for so vividly sharing what it is like when you band bald eagles! Great photos!

For those missing the live cam today, here is a very short animation taken from the still images on BRI's page.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I check in a few times a day for I few seconds and if something interesting is happening then I will stay my 2 minutes, I think everyone should follow the same guidelines, I for one think if people are connected all day then they are getting up and leaving their computers

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that the live cam has not been working today for anybody.
The still images are being updated every 15 seconds at the BRI's page here:

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Site!! I Got a question for you. After the chicks hatch and start eating where do they're bowl movements go? Do they go in the nest or do they do like they're parents and go off the side of the nest?

1:53 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

March 16, 2007 3:59 PM


Any chance you could zoom out just a bit on the cam? When those winds pick up later, we will just see branches like the last storm.
We will worry if we can't see our pair! ;o)

Thanks for any consideration!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

March 16, 2007 4:05 PM

As far as I know, the cam was down and NO ONE could get on. It didn't have anything to do with some being on more than 2 minutes.

Wing, please advise? was the cam down most of the morning and afternoon?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FRI. 4:30

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:30pm CDT
Looks like the wind has affected the camera angle. Can't see the eagles in the nest now. Angle is too high. I hope someone notices it soon

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D&B said...
Agreed and thank you for mentioning all those out there who are abusing the two minute Eaglecam and watching ALL day long.
We cannot seem to connect today for whatever reason and am somewhat concerned.
Everyone watching the Eagles nesting, please do as advised and limit your visits to two minutes only,each time.
3/16/07---12:20 p.m. DST

Just so you will know, noone was
viewing at this time. The cam
was down to all.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no it appears the camera has blown over.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Aunt Jul said...

With all the wind, the camera has moved and we can't see the birds. Hopefully it will be able to get moved back into place so we can keep enjoying such a wonderful site. Those poor birds must be freezing. Thanks,Julie

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the camera is off the nest, but still shooting. The wind is howling so I'm sure that is the cause, or at least I hope it is. We will be keeping the eagles in our prayers tonight!

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a welcome surprise to see the camera pulled back, thank you sooo much, now can see all of the eagle. Hang on, it is wild out there.
Karen in Denmark

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:43 and the storm is picking up here on the coast. Poor mama tonight! It is supposed to be snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain before it is over, with huge gusts of wind. I live on the same island as the eagles and we are expecting a pretty miserable night. I will be looking to see mama on the nest in the morning. She is such a dedicated mama!

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:00pm AZ 3/16
Lots of wind and light flashes. Is it lightning or is the bad weather affecting the infrared camera?

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5pm Az
I forgot to menion the eagle had her head up looking out toward the water.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the light flashes are snow flakes.
Poor mama. hope she hangs on tonight.
She is so patient and devoted.
Fri. 11:00

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Mama! The wind is blowing a gale, we got many inches of snow, then sleet after midnight. Now it is raining and the temperature is just above freezing. As I watch the nest being bounced all around in the wind I have to keep reminding myself that this is normal spring weather in Maine and that eagles have been having babies here for centuries. Still, she looks SO miserable. Poor thing!

7:12 AM  
Blogger gigi 1 said...

3/17 7:55am what a storm! keep those eggs warm momma

7:56 AM  
Blogger TNTalker said...

Gosh that poor thing ... I just looked at her this morning 8:00 something EST and she looks like she's in miserable weather. It was so sad I had to shut it down.

I know it's just another day in the life of our eagle but man that hurts.


8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely howling! It is inspirational to see mom's dedication in this awful weather. But there she beautiful as ever.It will soon be over, I hope!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:00am and I was pleased to see mama stand up, shake herself, poke at the eggs and then settle down again. I have checked the stills throughout the morning and it didn't seem she had moved an inch since last night! The weather is not quite as miserable here now as it was. I too find it hard to see her looking so wet and cold, but I have seen still photos on other sites (and maybe this one last year?) of eagles covered with snow keeping those eggs warm. They are amazing and we have to assume mother nature wouldn't have eagles laying eggs in early March in Maine if they couldn't survive. We ALWAYS get some snow in March and plenty of cold weather. Obviously the eagles know what to do to take care of those babies.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:42 Eastern
Happy St. Patricks's Day

I feel strangely humbled watching that mother eagle guard her young during this storm.

The parenting instinct of wild animals sometimes far surpasses that of intelligent humans. Human fathers don't always take such good care of mothers as our eagles and human mothers too often forget that babies come first even in the rough stuff.

I, too, have a hard time watching this morning. Yet it is strangely beautiful, as always. Best to all...

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:45am AZ 3/17
Happy St. Pat's to all !!!
Wow, a blustery freezing day in Maine. Eagle is hunkered down in the rocking nest. I see snow. Here it was 100 yesterday!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a video of Mom turning the eggs and flapping water/ice off her wings around 10 a.m. March 17th.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 17, 11:32 a.m.
Quick check on momma, same position as this morning, glad to read blog she got up at 10 a.m. I was worried but figured she was hunkered down for the duration. Eagle in Mass. yesterday, buried in snow!
Karen in Denmark

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How amazing this is to watch...what devotion and perserverance this eagle has. It certainly has spoken to me and taught me so much. I was so touched by it that I just had to donate towards this project! What a tremendous opportunity this is to watch these eagles. Thank you so much and please keep up the great job. I will continue to support this project as often as I am able.

God bless!

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from Tracey in Houston.. My heart goes out to mom and dad. Talk about a bad hair day. How long is this storm going to last? Today proving the true spirt of Eagles and their dedication.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/17 at 10:35pm
Eagle got up and stretched, flapped his/her beautiful impressive wings, shook off the wetness and then checked the eggs. Tomorrow's weather looks a lot better for our feathered friends!!

-- Liz (W,DC)

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:30AM Sunday and Momma REALLY is having a bad hair day! For those who are wondering, the weather forecast for this area is for snow showers and temps just below freezing today, with much lighter winds. Tomorrow is supposed to be colder, but less winds than we've had again. Temperatures are supposed to climb a bit through the week until we maybe see 40' by next weekend. Assorted precipitation is forecast for most of the week. It won't be balmy, but it will be less harsh than this weekend has been.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/18 8:45am pst
stop snowing. Moma is screaming for papa. Where is he??

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 18, 12:08 p.m.
A few minutes ago watching live image, switched to live video, eagle on branch, moved up and took off, heard some calling. Wing in view, talons, eagle moved down branch, settled down in nest. Can't tell if it was an exchange, looks like same size head with wet feathers. I presume it was. Been wondering if someone has seen food brought to nest.
Karen in Denmark

12:11 PM  
Blogger NH Judi said...

At 1205 I noticed the female eagle who was sitting on the eggs get up and flap her wings. i tuned in to the live feed and watched as she climbed out on the far branch flapping her wing vigorously while uttering a very high pitched stacato. This lasted about 45 seconds after which she returned to the eggs and settled in but still appeared very interested in something above her head.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 18 12:24 p.m.
Watching live image again, this time there was a definite nest exchange, my first! Can really tell the difference now in feathers and head of male and female. Forgot to mention, first time I was watching, live image went white, switched to video, just had to watch nest exchange on video this time too, didn't stay long.
Karen in Denmark

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:17 p.m. March 18th and Dad has finally returned to the nest! :-)

Here is an animation of his return:

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a video of the reunion.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/18 11:12 am pst

blowing like heck with snow flurries. WHERE IN THE HECK IS DAD?

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tuned in yesterday and saw the horrible wind and rain storm going on. My questions are: Does the same parent stay on the nest until the weather clears? How long can they go without eating?

There is another nest I watch and I see that one is covered in snow. Can the eggs survive when it gets this cold?

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart just breaks for mama eagle protecting her eggs. What utter devotion. I too, had to shut it down quickly because it was too heartbreaking to watch. I had her in my thoughts and prayers in all my waking moments and am happy to see the weather had eased up a bit today for them both.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for sharing this with us!
The live eagle cam is awesome.
Your blog is so informative.
Thanks again!

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the expected date when the eagle eggs will be hatching?

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monday March 19th
5:42 AM

I'm sure someone else from Judy's forum has posted that we think Dad has an injured foot or talon or leg. One of our regular viewers cares for and rehabilitates large birds, ducks and geese, etc. and said, after watching the videos of Dad limping in and out of the nest, that she's confident he will recover in a few days.

She says the way he lies on the nest now with one or both wings "up" also has to do with his condition, because he will try to lie in a position that doesn't put weight on his injured foot.

My own observations and speculations:

He is very careful in the nest, and uses his wings to balance himself, being careful not to step on the eggs.

It might be difficult for him to catch fish or ducks with his talons right now, and that could be why he was gone from the nest for a long time yesterday morning.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monday March 19
6:34 AM

Dad was nearby as daylight came, and there was a lot of soft and reassuring chatter back and forth between him and Mom.

He flew in and they made the nest exchange about 6:34 AM. And he seems to be getting around a lot better, less of a limp. He moved right into incubation and didn't have to spread his wings out to keep his balance in the nest bowl.

Things are LOOKING GOOD!!! :-)

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 19th

Will's comment and video of the nest exchange earlier this morning.


"Yes, his leg looks better today:"

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:00 A.M. MONDAY 3/19

7:55 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

3/19 8:23AM - Mom looks a little "tired"? Is she all right? Yesterday must have been terrible for her.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you bloggers would be interested in reading this:

Rare bald eagle nest found in Philadelphia
Hopes are high that city will see first eagle chicks in two centuries

PHILADELPHIA - Wildlife authorities have found the first bald eagle nest in the city in more than 200 years and hope the occupants will produce offspring, state officials said.

Read the rest of the story at:

-- Liz (W,DC)

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monday March 19th

Jeanne was worried that Mom looked tired on the nest at 8:23. I'm pretty sure it was Dad on the nest at that time. And he is tired, as he's the one with the bad leg. Several different shifts we've seen him start to "nod off" and I think people said last night that Mom was perched near by late in the evening, didn't take his place until quite late (for her) but kept waking him up.

He had a very difficult time in the last day or so of the storm. And he may be having a hard time catching "live prey" while his leg/foot/talon is recovering. Maybe he doesn't get much rest while he's "roosting" either.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took some screenshots from Will's nest exchange video from this morning that seem to show the male eagle dangling his foot.
Someone suggested that a dangling foot could mean toe joint damage.
The screenshots are here:

9:18 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

3/19 9:26AM - That was Dad on the nest looking "tired". I just saw the exchange. Dad's left foot looks bad. The talons are all curled under and he wouldn't put pressure on it when getting up. I'm worried about him catching food for himself and mom.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the adults has a problem with its left leg/foot. I noticed it limping as it moved to the edge of the nest and took off this morning at about 9:30 EDT,Monday the 19th. Hope all is well.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eagle on a sunny nest this morning looking around her area.
Something I have noticed about the cameras...On the live video1 it will stop at the 2 min. limit, but on the LV2 it doesn't. If I don't keep my eye on the time it's very easy to go over the 2 min. limit.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 19th

I tried to count up 35 days from the matings we saw, and marked my calendar:

April 9th

April 12th

And just in case there was an egg laid that Sunday when the camera was down all morning, or later -- when a several people thought they saw her laying anther one

April 14th with a question mark

Last year the first time anyone really SAW the eaglets was April 12th and there were already two of them. So we might not see the eaglets right away, even if they hatch on these dates.

I don't know if it has to be exactly 35 days, either.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anyway to tell the difference in the male and female?

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/19/07 l:18PM
Does anyone have more info on the injured male?
I am worried about him. Will he be able to catch fish? I can tell that he is hurting, and I hate this new complication for this great pair.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think at this stage of the incubation it's not unusual for Dad to stay on the eggs while Mom does her own hunting. It's probably good exercise for her, given all the time she spends crouched over the eggs. Dad brings food to the nest before they mate, to prove he'll be a good provider, and he does most of the hunting for the eaglets - but I think from what I've read all he really needs to worry about now is feeding himself for the next day or two until his leg is better.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How to tell Mom and Dad apart:

If you mean is there an easy way to tell the male bald eagle from the female, when you see just one of them in the nest -- no, there isn't. We all have a hard time telling who's on the nest, when we look in on them.

If you see them together, the female is the larger one. This is true of all bald eagle pairs.

As you watch these two for a long time, you may get to recognize them. Some people find it much easier than others do.

Looking at them "face on", Dad is usually the one that has the upside down V in the white feathers, under his beak.... Sometimes, though, when the wind is blowing or it's raining, etc, Mom's feathers make an upside down V under her chin, too.

Their profiles are different. Mom's feathers are fluffier, whereas Dad's head feathers look like he just "slicked" them down.

Dad's eye seems to be closer to the front of his face, and to his beak, whereas Mom's seems to be set further "in" on her "face".

(this must be killing the biologists if they're reading it; I don't know the correct terms for any of this)

I'll see if I can upload some profiles to photobucket for you to keep on your desk top, like I do.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/19/07 at 4:04pm Everyone seems concerned about the male eagle's hurt leg/foot. I would love to hear from BRI on this, especially concerning food gathering and healing time. Should we be worried? for the male? for the female? neither?

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/19 @ 4:25pm
Nest is unoccupied. Ahhh, Dad just came back -- can tell from his injured foot. Got a good look at it. Poor Dad. Hope it heals quickly before the babies hatch!

-- Liz (W,DC)

4:26 PM  
Blogger NH Judi said...

At 1625 I noted nest was empty. I tuned in to see Dad arrive and he is definitly favoring the left leg/foot. He took a few limping steps toward the nest and then had to stop and rest with his left foot held up to his body and the talons curled up tight. He then took about 2 more limping steps and carefully lowered himself over the eggs in what appeared to be a very awkward position as though that was as far as he could go. This is so sad! These eagles are amazing in their dedication and perseverance in the face of some pretty tough odds.

4:31 PM  
Blogger NH Judi said...

Question: If dad can't hunt will mom hunt for both and share?

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, all!

I was a regular watcher of the eaglecam last year, and poster here... and I followed the loon egg laying, hatching, drama, etc, last year as well. Glad to be back! I haven't been able to catch up with everyone's blog comments, but just read all the posts here.

Thanks to everyone who is dating his or her posts - it's really helpful to know what date it is when you post.

Also, someone asked where the chicks' bowel movements go... if they go in the nest, or over the side of the nest like the adults. Well, I remember quite well from last year that the chicks poop over the side of the nest. It's actually quite funny... especially when they start doing this... they position themselves with their backside toward the edge of the nest, then bend wayyyyy over until their head is practically on the nest floor, and their little butts are sticking up in the air.. and then... projectile poop! They're often so unsteady at first when doing this, when they're first born, that that almost fall over.

Also, I noticed some of you were concerned about all the noises... motors, etc. Last year many of us had the same worries, but we were assured by the great folks at BRI that the noises are "normal" in that area, for that nest. Apparently there's a house nearby, which is why we often hear motors and a dog barking, even voices, etc. We were told that the eagle couple have been returning to that nest for many years, with that house nearby, and all the noise we hear, so they aren't really bothered by it.

I'm a little concerned that there were three whole days between the first and second eggs being laid. That gives the first chick a huge advantage.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't as a rule watch the 'Live Video, just watch the page update on it's own. So sorry to hear that 'dad' has a bad talon, hopefully it's not an ongoing thing. I've enjoyed this pair for the past few years, hopefully they will continue their lineage in the eagle life. Here in MN, I drive to the Sherbune County Reserve about eight miles south to watch them and times they fly over, what a great sight they are. Coming from west Texas, this has been a great experience for me to watch them raise their young in real time.

Thanks to the group that places this for all of us to enjoy. God love you and yours.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mar 19, 2007 7PM (EDT)

With dad having any type of injury, this could interfere with his ability to provide food to his mate/himself if there should be more inclimate weather.

He'll certainly need use of strong talons once the eggs hatch, in order to keep the brood properly fed.

Hopefully, this is only a sprain, as opposed to an injury. I've not noticed him bringing sticks, nest materiel, or much food into the nest since his last topsy-turvy incident..but then I've been away for a few days as well.

He seems strong enough, and I doubt any injury would keep him from his duty. Dad is certainly dedicated in all other aspects.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We noticed eagles building a nest on the family property here in Michigan in early January. A couple days ago we noticed the birds are siting on eggs so we got in touch with the local state biologist, (and emailed photos and a google earth bookmark made in January). The birds in this webcam are proably on about the same schedule as our birds. We'll follow this blog to get insites into what our birds might be doing and what might be coming up. Thanks for maintaining the cam.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuesday March 20th

As for telling Mom from Dad -- I realized there's no need for me to upload profiles.

Go to the archived images on the main BRI page.
Scroll all the way to the bottom.

Then slowly scroll up. The fifth picture up from the bottom shows both Mom and Dad in the nest.

You can see the differences in their feathers, how Mom is more "fluffed up" and Dad's feathers are more "slicked down". And their eyes are set a little differently, in relationship to their "foreheads" and their beaks.

If you continue to scroll up, there are some pictures of Dad which show his inverted V.

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuesday, March 20th

Someone asked if Mom would bring in food and share it with Dad. This would probably cause laughter among those of us who know Mom. HER? SHARE FOOD??? I doubt it!!! :-)

Seriously, though, who knows? Maybe she will bring food back to the nest. I've read stories, in books by professional wildlife biologists, about young eaglets in the nest helping their nest mates out of predicaments. Apparently they "know" when another eagle is in trouble, and may have an instinct to "help".

And we know that the adults will feed the young if they fall out of the nest to a lower limb, or to the ground and can't yet fly, or get food for themselves. So maybe they would help one another if it was obvious that the other one couldn't catch any food. But on the whole I think she would expect him to be getting food while he's away from the nest. And I hope he is, too!

Knowing how Mom is with food, though, I doubt it!!

Wing or Chris, please delete this and give a better answer. Or don't post this, if I am way off on my guess.


12:12 PM  
Blogger Lori - ME said...


Thank you so much Chris for such a great, informative post...

I too have been a loyal eaglecam/looncam girl from way back when the looncam first ever started :o)

I am extremely worried about 'Mr. Eagle'... His leg looks horrible again today. I cannot imagine how he's able to catch prey with his leg as it is. It definitely takes 2 eagles to feed and brood eaglets. I hope & pray that his injury is not serious.

A question to the experts...
I know that bald eagles mate for life so what happens if a mate dies? Will they ever take another partner?

For newcomers to the eaglecam, take some time and read the archives from last year's blog. They have lots of great information in them.

Thanks again Wing, Charlie, Chris and the whole Bri team. You all are amazing!

Lori in Maine

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 20th
Will's video of Dad's bad foot

Will took this video at the first nest exchange this morning. The second part of it is slow motion, with his comments.


3:42 PM  
Blogger Lori - ME said...

Wow Will!
Your videos are incredible. You are so talented :)

I just hate watching him the way he is now. I sure hope that it's not serious.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:00pm ET

Will/Jane... Thanks for the video of this mornings landing by Dad. I am concerned for him too. I understand this is nature, but it's still hard not to worry. They are such a devoted and vigilant pair. I just don't want anything to happen to either of them (OR the babies!!). Let's all have good thoughts and/or say our prayers for this beautiful pair and for Dad's foot/leg to heal up nice and quick!!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

3-20-2007 1700hrs (EDT)

Nest exchange at 3:49pm and Dad had great difficulty landing on the branch and keeping his balance.

His thigh (?) seems quite swollen and the tallon is limp.

Here's a video of him coming in:

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/20 4:38pm CDT
We are all terribly worried about Dad. Hope to hear from Wing or Chris on this subject. Wing -- I am wondering if you will tag the babies when they are born? If yes, can you let us all know when you will be doing that so we can watch?

5:38 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mar 20, 2007 1810hrs (EDT)

After watching some videos I wonder if Dad might develop a case of aspergillosis? This tendon/talon problem would certainly put stress on him since I've never seen Mom share a meal with him. He's usually been the one to bring food into the nest.

Any ideas, or comments?

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TUES. 3/20 6:30 P.M.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nightlight (infrared) just came on. Only one eagle in the nest as of now. I'm waiting for a while longer.
Sometimes at night when I look in I feel like an intruder.
I know, I know.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 21st, Weds
written at 7:30 AM

First nest exchange today: 6:15 AM

Dad insisted on coming in and taking over. He came in to the branch, and Mom didn't get up or move at all. So he landed on the nest. Still no response from her. So he "hollered" in her ear (as best he can with his lost voice) Finally she left the nest, and he settled in to incubate.

He seemed to land on both feet when he came to the branch, but immediatly took his weight off the left foot. I couldn't see how he landed, on the nest, but he had to use his wing to support himself when he first nestled in to incubate. He did kick his feet in back of him, though, and settle in without either wing extended.

I hope it's a good sign that he came in early to the nest, and he insisted that Mom leave. Just his attitude showed that he had some energy!

I wonder why he was so eager to take over. Maybe he wants to lie down and take some weight off his leg!

I sure wish the BRI biologists would comment on what kind of injury he seems to have, how long his recovery period will be, and whether they think he can acquire food on his own.



7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Mrs. E's class
March 21, 2007
8:25 am
We noticed an intruder. It looked and sounded like a crow. The nesting eagle went into high alert with lots of screeching.
There was a nest exchange. It was the male who left as we saw him limping before he took flight.

It has been exciting to watch the Eagle Cam.

Our school mascot is the Bald Eagle.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weds. March 21st

To Mrs E's class:

Your school has a very good mascot! :-)

In my town (Winslow, Maine) we have three eagle nests. On the Fourth of July we have eagle balloons, eagles on our hats and tee shirts, eagle floats ... eagles eagles eagles!! :-)

When we had a special celebrationto open our new Veteran's Memorial Park, a bald eagle soared overhead during the speeches!!

We should make eagles our mascot, too!!


11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will video

Weds March 21st, first nest exchange, at 6:15 AM

In the video Will makes observations "on the film" as usual. He didn't mention that Dad had to use his wing to steady himself as he nestled in over the eggs, but if you watch for that, you will see it.

See whethere you think Dad is using his foot a little better than yesterday. Some of us thought so.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A video around 1:45 p.m. on March 21st of dad getting up, stretching, taking a bathroom break, and I think turning eggs. He had to hop once, but in general looked better.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Lori - ME said...

3/21/07 2:50pm

Thanks Jane & Will...

I pretty much dread checking in on the eagles now since it is absolutely breaking my heart. His talon still is not functioning. He did land but if you look close, his left talon is still clenched shut. It sure does not look good and I really wish that someone from Bri would give us their insight as to what they think might be wrong.
His foot almost looks broken to me.

Still saying my "eagle prayers"


2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any way that the male eagle's leg/talon can be treated? I sure hope one of the biologists are able to help him!

Please...please...PLEASE tell us something about the eagle's health,and whatever information you may have.

He is such a good "daddy" eagle and I am so concerned about him. I check in on the cam several times a day hoping to see him and just praying that he is getting better.

I sure hope one of you pros can tell us something.

2:58 PM  
Blogger NH Judi said...

I just reviewed the latest file judy posted of the activity that took place at 1:45 this afternoon and I'm pretty sure that is NOT dad. There was no inverted v. I would LOVE to think it was dad feeling better but I'm not convinced.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

03/21/07 5:46PM

This is definitely Mom sitting on the eggs. AI checked in about an hour ago, and I was sure Dad -one wing up, and smaller- was here then.
Unfortunately I missed the changing of the guards if it did indeed take place within the last hour.
Hang in there Papa Eagle. I'm rooting for you, and your family.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mar 21, 2007 7:20PM (EDT)

nh judi

How very observant you are; and correct!

The nest exchage happened early in the morning, then, after Mom returned to the nest she was there until the next exchange, about 2:12pm.

He's still having difficulty with the tendon or talon. I could be wrong but I believe it's the tendon that causes the eagle to open or close his talons.

"The talons are closed by the muscles, anchored on the leg bones, by contracting the tendons. The tendons are contained in tendon sheaths." (This information from on the Internet).

So my thoughts are he may have lost a claw from his talon or injured his tendon somehow during that storm or trying to get some prey. We'll never know, and he certainly doesn't need human interference.

I can't remember anyone seeing him on the 16th or even 17th of March - was that the storm dates?

There was cam problems both days, either from so many people tyring to watch, or the weather.

My personal thoughts are that Dad will get over this problem. He needs time to heal, and a good night of incubating would do him wonders - shoo Mom - or move over in that Aerie nest! *G*

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/21 8:46 pm

I am very concernced for dad too but can you honestly picture any of the biologists being able to capture dad in order to fix his talon? Somehow I can't get a picture in my mind of him standing out on a branch and allowing them to go up after him. I think they aren't answering people's concerns for this reason, they know that if they say they will let nature take its course then people are going to get mad about it. I think that Bri is in a no win situation, people will not agree with their decision no matter what they do.

Think about it.

I am not trying to tic anyone off and I absolutely love both of these eagles but this is how I see it, sorry if you don't agree. We all have that right.

I think that Wing and the Biologists have done a super job and I enjoy this cam tremendously. Keep up the good work.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thursday March 22nd
6:22 AM

The first nest exchange was at 6:22 AM. Dad flew in and landed with both feet on the side of the nest. Right after he landed he picked up the left leg and took the weight off it. Then i think the talon curled up. He made his way over to cover the eggs very quickly. I don't think he used his wing to steady himself at all. We don't have a video yet.

Perhaps it's encouraging that he is ABLE to extend the left leg and land on it, even though it is obviously painful. Maybe that means he hasn't got any broken bones in there.

It certainly makes his life a lot easier, if he can extend it and land on it. Otherwise he might lose his balance when he landed.

I wonder if it means he can also pick up a fish and carry it to shore. I hope so.

He seems to be in good shape and not to be looking bedraggled or worn out. Actually, I think he's the most beautiful eagle around!! He's such a welcome sight!! :-)

The early morning shift is very meaningful right now.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thursday March 22nd
Sun Rise

That reminds me.

BRI, is there any chance we could have the camera settings changed so that we could have color during at sunrise?

It stays on infrared until 8 AM now a days.

Before we got the new infrared camera, sunrise was an incredibly beautiful experience, on the eagle cam.

It was "late" before daylight savings time and now it's WAY WAY OFF.


6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the 6:22 nest exchange on March 22.

I agree NH Judi that the eagle in the video I posted yesterday looks very much like it was the Mom and not the Dad. I had just come home and I had read that he was doing good and the eagle had it's wing up like he has been doing and I let wishful thinking take over! Thank you for your observation Judi! :-) A video was posted that showed him still limping just a short time after the timeframe of the video I posted. This showed that it really had to be Mom and not Dad in my video.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Mrs.E.'s Class

First Thank you for telling us about your eagles in Winslow, Maine. We'd like to have Eagle balloons.

Our school motto is "We're Soaring to New Heights on the Wings of Literacy."

We have some questions.
1. Will the male be able to adapt and still bring food to the nest?

2. If the male should happen to die, will the female abandon the eggs and will she take another mate?
(We certainly hope that the male will be okay.)

3. How long has the cam been on?

4. How long has the nest been there?

We counted on the calendar and it looks like we have another 19 days before an egg will hatch. We are so EXCITED!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bit worried. I haven't seen meals being brought to the nest. I hope that the broken talon isn't hindering his ability to catch anything. I would think that mama eagle would step in for that task. I pray that this is only temporary for the male and he will heal and recover nicely.

10:21 AM  
Blogger NH Judi said...

I think the whole purpose of the eagle cam is to allow the study of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. This implies that we observe both the good and the bad. It is painful at times but the only way we can learn about them fully is to refrain from interfering in any way and observe what happens. How would we feel if they tried to help the male eagle and instead ended up scaring him away from the nest permanently?
I know I sound cold hearted but I prefer to think of it as being clinical.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/22 -- It seems to me as though this injury has not had a detrimental affect on the nesting pair. The eggs are being incubated and the parents are doing business as usual. I can't see that the injured eagle is starving. Maybe he is, yet nature's call to protect the unborn is winning. It's probably too early to tell what lies ahead, but I can't condemn the family just yet. It's amazing how these wild animals survive even against the odds. And I'm betting (and praying) that all will be fine.

-- Liz (W,DC)

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

03/22 1:45PM
I believe that the male eagle is on the mend. It will take time, though.
Interference at this point would be an awful mistake. I have confidence that the people in charge know what they are doing. Nature will take care of itself.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mar 22, 2007 217PM (EDT)

This is probably the last nest exchange for today for Dad.

He seems to make only a morning and afternoon appearance.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several of my students and I watched the exchange today around 3:30-ish, Although dad was limping a bit, he did seem somewhat better. Mom called, he came almost immediately, and off she went to tend to business. It took my breath away!
We are all crossing our collective fingers for this remarkable pair!

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fri. 3/23 4:08 am pst
Either mamma or papa settling in cautiously rocking body over eggs, then couple big screeches, then comfy quiet on eggs, looking around.
Tide seems to be out. No wind.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

4/9/07 Dedicated Mainer:

I have been watching this nest along with the other Maine site:

which has two has hatched and the other baby is just now cracking open....worth checking out.

I have been concerned with this nest here tho' as they left it again this morning for a couple hours....let's all pray they're strong babies and make it....Nature has it's way....

Care to all -n- Happy Easter

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4/9/07 7:13 AM Central

Am I seeing things or is that a babies head moving under her wing?

8:17 AM  

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