Posts Tagged ‘bald eagles’

A Two-Day Feast

This all started when an adult bald eagle landed in the field across the highway from our house. I hurried out on the porch to take its picture.

It took flight and flew right over me!

A little later, turkey vultures started flying into the field. The brown ones are immature, and the adults are black.

I had no idea what there was for them to eat … probably carrion.

I’m not sure if the light brown animal shape in front of the middle bird was carrion or a mound of dirt.

It looked like one of them wasn’t happy.

Other groups flew in too. They were scattered about in the 15-acre field.

I got as close to them as I could. That meant sneaking along the shrub border of our yard.

They seemed to be otherwise occupied. The two in this picture with the light wing tips are adults.

They were here for parts of two days.

The eagle wasn’t about to miss out on anything and was the last to leave.

The adult eagle, and a young eagle flew into a tree across the highway from our house. They didn’t stay long before they flew off to the northwest

… and haven’t been back since.

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Say What?

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Even with my bionic hearing, I couldn’t hear the conversation between these two water spirits.

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I also saw a total of eight bald eagles on our outing.

That’s how you know you’re having a good day!

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Happy Holidays to all!

Nesting Bald Eagles

My oldest son reported seeing 2 eagles on the nest. Needless to say, I left within minutes.

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One eagle kept its head down in the top of the nest. The one on the left faced the other direction, which put its tail towards me.  The head on the one would come up for a short time and then go back down. I had no idea what it was doing.

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Then they just sat there. This was 2 in the afternoon.

IMG_8301 crop redThis last picture was taken a little closer to the nest.

I watched them for 10 minutes and took the above picture when going to turn around.

 Something apparently happened to the young last year, because they quit nesting activities. I do so hope this year’s nesting is successful.

This visit was on January 21.

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1-30-13

The major cold front crossing the country came through our side of southern Illinois Tuesday night after 10 p.m.  I had just finished my breakfast the next morning and had a sudden thought, “the eagle nest.” Did it survive the storm? It wasn’t long before Buffy and I were on our way to check.

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The nest could be seen from the highway. What a relief! The huge tree lost a trunk a few years ago. I figured it wasn’t as balanced and strong as it should be, and that 70 mph winds could do damage.

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I parked back at my usual spot near a substation so I, hopefully, wouldn’t pressure the eagles. The white head in the nest — I knew all was OK. After taking a few pictures, I drove on to turn around. And there across the road, in a tree sat …

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the other eagle! That’s how you can tell you’re having a good day!

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  I now wonder if the one in the nest was incubating eggs, and the other one was standing guard. As you can see in the pictures in the top of this blog, how the one kept its head bent down. This went on for over 5 minutes. Maybe she was laying eggs.

Eagle Diary — April 26

Well …. eagle viewing proved to be a challenge this week.

Wednesday, April 25. Arrived at 9:30 a.m. and no adult eagles in or around the nest. Three turkey vultures soared over the woods west of the nest. Clouds were thickening. Temperature 68 and storms were possible later in the day. I drove past the nest to where I usually turn around. Besides wishing I had a periscope, I wished I had bionic ears. My best friend did see both adults on the nest on Sunday. So I wasn’t worried.

Thursday. We arrived aound 10 a.m. No adults again. A great blue heron flew by. The only clouds were wind-stretched jet contrails. It was windy and already 77 degrees. My first monarch butterfly of the year fluttered by. We waited patiently for a little while before we left. On the way past the nest, I stopped and used my “deer ears” (hands cupped behind my ears) to see if I could hear any eaglet noises. They only amplified the wind noise. I did hear a frog, though.

Then I thought often during the day that I’d go in the evening. Surely they would be there then, plus I could see the nest with a sunset behind it.  This time I made a quiet get-a-way and left Buffy with my husband. Imagine my surprise and frustration when I pulled up at 6:30 and still no adults! I parked in my usual spot and sat there watching and listening to birds, and journaling. And I waited… and waited.

Obviously, I don’t think like an eagle, because I expected at least one would be at the nest in the evening. I took the sunset picture and left for home. Think I’ll wait until next Wednesday and try again … of course I am curious and a tad concerned.

Eagle nest, nearing sunset

Eagle Diary — April 11

Eagle feeding young on April 11

Wednesday, April 11. Time 9am. Temperature 45, and a west wind blew. The tree was completely leafed out.

An adult stood just inside the nest, obviously tending to young. The other adult wasn’t anywhere around. I opened the door to take  pictures of the nest and heard another eagle repeat its “kleek” calls. I didn’t pay any attention to the direction the calls came from or look for the other eagle.

I took several pictures and then eased the truck up a little closer. She was definitely feeding young.   She’d bring her head up. Her beak would open and close quickly, and then she’d lean down again. I wondered what the prey was that she had in the nest to feed them. This continued for a few minutes.

I drove on past the nest and turned around. An eagle flew to the east, toward a large body of water, and maybe on from there. I lost sight of it. Then when I passed the nest, the adult was gone (probably the one I just watched flying east).  Another large bird flew to the north. No matter how hard I tried to turn the large bird into an eagle, it was still a great blue heron. The blue-gray on top of its wings was obvious with the sunlight hitting it.

Either the adult was hunkered down in the nest when I passed (which I doubted) or was out hunting for food. This must mean the young were old enough to keep themselves warm. I couldn’t imagine the adult going far for food or leaving the eaglets unprotected for very long. Of course the eaglets were probably hunkered together. The sunlight warming them. The nest would also be adequately lined for warmth.

As I left I wondered if there were 1, 2 or 3 eaglets in the nest. It would still be nice to have a periscope to see down into the nest. Patience was never one of my better virtues.

Eagle Diary

Nesting eagles

3-28-12 Buffy and I took a drive this morning to check the eagle nest. The male perched on a limb, and the female stood on the edge of the nest. My first thought was that the eggs had hatched. It was 74 degrees at 9:30, so I figured it was warm enough for either eggs or eaglets. I drove past, taking pictures, turned around and drove back by, taking more pictures. The one on the limb had flown. I began wondering if the male had gone for food, or maybe took over nesting activities and let the female get some exercise. (I take pictures through an open window. I figure that stresses them less than my getting out of the truck.)

When I got home I started going back through picture records of my trips to the nest: January 26 — both were on the nest; February 15 — one was sitting down in the nest, and I wondered if she was incubating; March 9 — female incubating. Male perched in a tree across the road, guarding the nest; March 28, today — female perched on the side of the nest and male close by on a limb.

Bald eagles incubate eggs for 34-36 days. That means 42 days from February 15. So I assume the eggs have either hatched or are hatching. I’m not sure how many days she waits between laying each egg. They lay 1-3 eggs, usually 2.

It’s a shame there isn’t some way to see down in the nest. Not knowing does add to the mystery and intrigue, though. I do tend to be overly curious by nature … which keeps me learning.

Nesting Bald Eagles

Male perched close, protecting its nest.

Buffy and I took a morning drive to check on a pair of nesting bald eagles. The morning was sunny, with light wind and temperature in low 50’s. I saw the male eagle perched in a tree before I even turned off the highway. It was perched in a row of trees along a fence line perpendicular to the highway. The nest was across a blacktop road further back from where male was perched. The female’s white head was just above the top of the nest.

I only go there about every 2 weeks or so because I don’t want to stress the eagles. I know there must be many others interested in them too.

A strong storm last year took down the right trunk of the cottonwood tree and the nest with it (see picture below). The young didn’t survive. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the pair had built a nest in the remaining trunk.

Female incubating

I vividly remember the first eagle I ever saw. It was near its nest too. My youngest daughter and I were on a Christmas bird count in the closed area of a refuge. We even got to eat lunch there and watch the eagles across the inlet. Eagles numbers were low back then.

Bald eagles get their white head and tail when they’re 3-4 years old. They mate for life and can live to 30 years in the wild. Their diet consists of fish, small mammals, especially rabbits, waterfowl, and carrion. They build their nest 30-60 feet high in the fork of a tree. She lays 1-3 bluish-white eggs (usually 2). The eggs are incubated for 34-36 days. Eagles are semi-altricial. Altricial means the eaglet is incapable of moving on its own after hatching. The young take their first flight when they’e between 10-13 weeks old.

The right trunk, with nest, went down in storm last year

I found out in my research that eagles have hatching asynchrony, meaning they begin incubating when the first egg is laid. This results in a size difference between the first and last to hatch. I found a barred owl nest years ago in the cavity of a dead tree. I watched the 4 owlets taking turns perching on a horizontal ledge of the nesting cavity. There was considerable size difference between the youngest and oldest. The youngest lacked the balance of the older ones, and had to keep grabbing the side of the opening, with its beak to stabilize itself.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA has a website — www.wvec.com/eagle/cam.  They have 3 video cams set up close to monitor to nesting activities. You can watch the eagles in real time. You can ask questions on their open chat, and view slide shows of previous days and last year.

And if all goes well with the nesting this season, I’ll be following this pair in my blogs.