A Sunny Day
This camera gives us an insight into one pair of birds, their ups and downs, and while they are facing their challenges of predators, weather, and contaminant loads, so are other birds across Maine and the country.
Here are BRI we have focused our research on mercury levels and other contaminants in birds and mammals. We have document that mercury, likely paired with other contaminants, causes a decrease in reproductive success essentially because it makes birds less vigorous, physically and mentally.
What I have thought about as this eagle pair weathered extreme cold and harsh weather on the nest, was how other pairs of eagles might be holding up that have high mercury levels. This pair is on the coast of Maine, where eagle mercury levels tend to be lower than birds that nest near interior lakes. The results from Chris DeSorbo’s work here at BRI, demonstrates that the average mercury levels of adult eagles in Maine is the same as those found in birds living near a mercury mine. Consequently, this tough weather may have affected the interior eagle even more than those on the coast.
Many of you have asked about the looncam. We plan on setting it up in the first week of May. The lake were the camera will be set up still has ice. As soon as the ice is out the loons return and we will set up the camera. In the past the loons have nested in the last two weeks of May.
As far as the eaglecam, we plan on leaving it up and running so that we can continue our research—today I am meeting with a senior college student to start working on a scientific paper on what we have learned from this eagle pair. Will the birds renest; will they return to the nest site through the summer? We will be learning along with you. In the last 30 years only four pairs of eagles have been documented to renest by the Maine Department of Inlands Fisheries in Wildlife. Now it is getting pretty late for the birds, and it is unlikely that they would renest, but as I have said before this pair continues to surprise us. I would expect them to maintain their territory and visit the nest periodically through the year.
Many of you have asked about the adults. From what I have read in your comments and what I have watched myself, I can confidently say that both the adults are alive and well. This pair is extremely lucky that their nest survived the storm. It is well located close to prime feeding grounds and hopefully will prove to be a good nesting site in the future.
There was a question about how long the birds will breed for. I am not sure. Eagles tend to mate for life, providing they successfully produce young, and in captivity have lived up to 30 years. Assuming that these birds have been the same pair for 13 years, and that they first nested when they were five years old, they are probably around 18 years old—middle aged by eagle standards. We will have to watch and see how many years they have I them, but I am sanguine they have many more.
Looking forward to next year, we are already looking to install two more cameras. One I hope will provide a look into the nest bowl, so that we can see how many eggs the birds have laid, the hatching process, and prey that the adults are feeding to the chicks. We are also looking into installing a high definition camera that would provide daily clips in HD from the nest. Currently, HD cannot be streamed live, but we would be able to provide two minutes clips. Also I am looking seriously into setting up a camera on a peregrine falcon nest and an osprey nest.
I intend to keep this blog running through the year. As I am able, hopefully once a week or more often, I will write in about the research here at BRI, about my field experiences coming up—I am slated to spend most of the summer on remote islands in Maine—and about bird natural history.
Later today I hope to give you an update on our fundraising campaign
Thank you all for your wonderful comments and your caring.
Wing Goodale, BioDiversity Research Institute