Monday, April 18, 2011

Mid-April Update


Many thanks for all of your posts and questions! As many have alluded to we have been observing some unusual behaviors at this nest over the past few weeks. The short of it is that despite our great view of this nest it can be very challenging to determine exactly what is occurring at the nest and around the area of the nest.

It is also very difficult to identify individual eagles when birds are not marked with unique bands or tags.

As for those of you who are confused or wanting clarification about the 'rampant speculation' on the chat bar on ustream. My apologies. I would recommend that you join us on the BRI online community located at this link, rather than the ustream chat bar. This is a great place to catch up on happenings and post photos of your observations.

Additional response to comments:
(1) Eagles have not nested here since 2007.
(2) We will not be able to determine the outcome of this nesting effort until we observe chicks or fail to see chicks by May 1 (realistically, this is a late hatch date based on March 24 egg-laying).
(3) The possibility of an eagle laying an egg several weeks after a first clutch is very low but as a biologist I have learned that nothing is impossible.
(4) It is not unusual for eagles to tend a nest past the likely hatch date even when the eggs are no longer viable.

I hope this clarifies some of the questions that you have put forth. I think that it is important to recognize that observation and not speculation is the first step of the scientific process. I know that I remain at the observational level and appreciate the opportunity to learn what will happen next. i remain cautiously optimistic.

Have a great day and enjoy the webcam.

Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, April 01, 2011

Turmoil at the nest!

An eagle turns egg(s) at the NextEra Maine Eaglecam1

What a week it has been for those following the activity on the NextEra Maine Eagle Cam 1! Here is a quick summary:

Monday: Concern over the eggs being left for nearly an hour on a cool, windy day.
Wednesday: Chainsaw sounds and what appeared to be a spring cleanup occurring in proximity to the microphone and nest (along with some whistling at the eagles by a person).
Thursday: An attack on the incubating male by an eagle. Watch a video of the attack posted to the online community by laurad.
Friday: Late season nor'easter is dumping heavy, wet, snow across Maine and the webcam is snowed in.

I think that all of this activity provides a true picture of what eagles face as they establish a territory and lay eggs to rear young. And that is just that start of the long road that eagle offspring face as they develop over the course of 8-12 weeks until they are prepared to leave the nest for the first time.

I do hope that we can all keep a positive spirit amid the challenges that these particular birds are facing now. Many thanks for all the posts and for more frequent updates I would direct you to our online community where there is a discussion forum. You might also seek us out on Facebook. Please learn more about eagles and BRI's research.

Responses to blog posts:

My apologies for not posting your comments sooner. We have to manually review comments because we receive so much spam here. Thanks for all your comments

Are these the same eagles that nested in 2006 and 2007?

Because the eagles at this nest are not individually marked there is no sure way of know if these are the same eagles that have used this nest in the past my sense is that they are not. Observations over the past few years suggest that the nest may have been overtaken by a new pair or at least a new female in 2009. This is somewhat speculative but members of the online community have provided evidence (dark spots at the base of the females tail) to support this.

What about the eagles at the BRIeaglecam-Central Maine whose nest was destroyed during a storm last fall?

I am pleased to report that in February a nearby resident did report that she had observed eagles carrying sticks in the same direction toward an area about a quarter of a mile from the original nest. Then just two weeks ago I gott another message indicating that the birds were observed perching in trees within 100 yards of there old nest and carrying sticks. I am hoping for another report soon.

That is all I have for now. Hopefully this snow will clear and we will have a view of the nest soon. Please keep in touch.

All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
Outreach Director
BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, March 25, 2011

We have an egg!

Greetings and welcome to the 2011 nesting season! I have a few items to share here. First, I am happy to announce that we have received sponsorship by NextEra Energy Resources for Maine EagleCams. This is wonderful news welcome support!

Most importantly, I am very happy to report that after three years of no eggs being laid the eagles at the BRIeaglecam1 nest have laid an egg. Courting behaviors began as early as January and were periodic. On March 23rd a heavy snow fell for a short period in the afternoon and both birds were observed at the nest. They were touching bills. The following day the egg was laid. Eagles typically lay two eggs but may lay up to three. Eggs are laid about each 48 to 72 hrs.

A bit of history of this nest

BRI began monitoring this nest in 2006 and it has been a tumultuous journey. In 2006, the nest produced 2 chicks, in 2007 the chicks died during a storm event in April. During our monitoring from 2008, 2009 and 2010 we observed no nesting but a great deal of activity in the nest including what appeared to be territorial disputes at the nest. While there are many reasons why birds may not nest, a ‘third bird’ can be a disturbance that disrupts the nesting cycle. More info…

A bit of information about this pair

Although it is very difficult to tell the male bald eagles from the females-females are larger. In addition, although these birds are not banded to reveal their identity, close observations by members of BRI’s online community have documented a dark patch near the base of the resident female’s tail. This appears to be a unique characteristic that has remained distinct for two years and this characteristic might allow us to identify an individual bird. There has also been speculation that the resident eagles at this nest may have changed over the past five years.

This nesting event is sure to bring joy to many eager followers of this webcam. Please join in the conversation at BRI’s online community where this blog is cross-posted. Also, you can find us on facebook, twitter, youtube, and of course at our website We hope to maintain this blog each week or two weeks so be in touch with questions.

Many thanks and happy spring!

Patrick Keenan

Outreach Director

BioDiversity Research Institute

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No nesting this year?

Hi All,

Despite frequent visits hopes for nesting are diminishing as the season progresses.

Regarding a few questions that we have received:

(1) It is not possible to determine whether these birds are the same as last year or in years past. Some webcam watchers are confident in their ability to identify individual eagles based on certain feather pattern characteristics. These methods should be used with the most caution.

Notably on the BRI eaglecam2 the female of the pair is in fact banded and is likely the same bird that nested at this site last year.

(2) Based on sounds I do suspect that there has been some activity or a repair of some type near the microphone at this site. I've not been able to make a visit personally but do know of nearby buildings. It is important to note that the microphone is located some distance from the nest. Based on the behavior of birds at this site in the past it seems unlikely that limited sound and ground traffic would deter birds from using this site. However, it is not possible to completely rule this out.

Thanks for the posts and keep your fingers crossed for a late season nesting attempt.

Until Next Time,

Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Eagle visits but still no nesting!

Well, the subject line of this post pretty much sums it up. Although we have seen the eagles on a regular basis the birds at this site are not showing the signs of nesting this year. Many have put forth suggestions as to why they might not be nesting and unfortunately it is very difficult, if not impossible, to know for certain why these birds are again not nesting.

Last year, their nesting efforts waned directly after the arrival of a 'third' eagle which interrupted the nesting pair fairly early in the season. We've not seen any antagonistic interactions yet this year but other eagles have appeared at this nest on occasion over the past few months.

One possibility is that the birds are using this nest as a 'dummy' nest and nesting elsewhere. I have no knowledge of an additional nest but again this is difficult to rule out without a thorough survey of the area surrounding this nest or possibly aerial surveys.

Additionally, it is well documented that individual eagles do not necessarily nest every year. Perhaps these birds are simply taking an 'extended break' from nesting due to any number of reasons such as food supply, territorial disputes, body condition, or the condition of the nest or nest tree.

We will have to keep watch as the birds may still nest late but a general rule in coastal Maine is that if the birds do not lay eggs by early May it is unlikely that they will nest.

Until next time,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Catch up with the activities in our online community!

Hi All,

I've just reviewed some recent posts and suggestions. I would really like to direct some of you to our online community where people post images and videos from the BRI eaglecam...including an excellent and recent video of a mating attempt . I have also, per request, returned the view to show more of the tree. I plan to leave it in this view for a spell.
have a great day and enjoy BRI's wildlife webcams.

Patrick Keenan
Outreach Coordinator
BioDivrsity Research Institute

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mating attemps but still no eggs!

Hi All,
This eagle pair continues to make visits to the nest, especially early morning visits and late evening visits (like the one shown above). I have have a number of questions related to whether these eagles may be using a different nest site. I don't know for sure. I have no reports of other nests in the area that are in use. That said, anything is possible. One good sign is that the eagles have displayed several mating attempts over the past week. Matings tend to occur near the nest site but do not always result in an egg and nesting effort.

So, let's cross our fingers and keep watch on this nest for additional signs of breeding, such as bringing soft grasses to line the nest bowl with.

Until Next Time,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute