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Recent updates on the Eagles
***All reports submitted by the EASTWOOD EAGLE WATCHERS:
January 3, 2013 - It is a new year and winter has found us once again. The frigid weather is just perfect for mating eagles though. The lakes of the area are partially frozen over which means that Jim and Cindy are more likely to be spotted fishing the local rivers. They are beginning to make their daily sunrise breakfast trips to downtown Dayton and the free flowing waters around Deeds Point. If you have never seen wild Bald Eagles fishing (and happen to be up early) try to venture down to where the Mad River dumps into The Great Miami River and you may be in for a treat. But beware that they are a bit skittish so if you get out of your vehicle, they will fly. Please try not to disturb them as that may discourage them and change their behavior.
Watch the icy surfaces of frozen lakes and rivers for mating eagles throughout January and February. The pair will be side by side and usually Cindy will instigate the process by prancing past Jim.
I watched as one of the 2012 juveniles flew low over Cindy’s head as she perched in a tree along the shore of Huffman Lake today. Cindy called to it as it passed and the youngster made two large circles over the lake before flying off towards the well field. JBW/EEW
December 3, 2012 - It has been a month since my last update. During that time nest construction activity has slowed down considerably. Jim and Cindy have rebuilt the nest to a sufficient size to be used in the new nesting season. We were able to get a closer look at the nest this weekend and I estimate its current size as about 5-6 feet in diameter and around 4 feet deep on the outside. The floor of the nest is probably just a foot or so below the rim. For now Jim and Cindy are content to spend most of the day side by side in the trees south of the nest. They are only adding a few more sticks to the nest every now and then. Nest-building will intensify as time for egg laying nears. I expect that by late February another foot of sticks will be added to its dimensions.
The deer population in the well field looks very healthy as we head into the winter. This is good news to the well field coyotes that also seem rather well fed and heavily coated as the cold weather approaches. JBW/EEW
October 30, 2012 - As the month of October moved along, so did the nest reconstruction project. Jim and Cindy have built the nest back up to the 2011 nest size! It once again dominates the treeline south of the Mad River. It can clearly be seen from Route 4 and from Eastwood Lake now that most of the leaves have fallen.
Yesterday we stood in the blustery winds and watched as Jim carried large clumps of grass back to the tree to carpet the center of the nest. As the year winds down, they will continue to add to its walls in preparation for late winter egg-laying. One of the 2012 juveniles is hanging out around Eastwood Lake but will be chased away before the new eggs arrive.
Today I visited again and discovered that Hurricane Sandy’s savage winds had done no visible damage to the nest or our eagles. That is a very good thing! November is when the real courting activity begins so keep looking up! JBW/EEW
October 1, 2012 - As we had hoped, Jim and Cindy are indeed building a nest in the same fork that has held the aerie for the last few years! This is excellent news because the new nest will be somewhat shorter and smaller in diameter than the nest that was destroyed by the June windstorm. That nest had grown over the years to about 5 feet in depth and close to 8 feet in diameter. The center of the nest was fairly deep and the height of the walls made viewing the activities inside the nest on the eagle-cams a bit of a challenge. This year’s activities should be more easily captured. The nest will continue to grow over the years as the eagles add to it each fall and winter. JBW/EEW
September 24, 2012 - Activity around the nesting site is definitely growing! And there are four items to report that may interest you.
The first item is that DP&L crews recently descended on the well field with eleven trucks to install a different type of device to protect the eagles from electrocution. These devices cover the insulators on the poles and the first 4 feet of wire on either side of the insulators. The devices were installed on over forty poles including the twenty-five poles previously retrofitted with the other avian detection devices. Those devices proved to be less of a deterrentthan anticipated. The new devices should protect the eagles from the electrical danger even if they continue to visit the utility poles. All of their usual perches were covered as well as many pole near the nest.
The second item is that none of the three 2012 eaglets have returned “home”. They are apparently off on their own now but may return to the area at some time.
The third item is the good news that Jim and Cindy are visiting the damaged nest. There is very little left of the massive averie that was clearly visible in the treetop from Ohio Route 4 and Eastwood MetroPark. The rebuilding process will require a lot of work should they choose to nest in their big sycamore again.
The fourth item is a sign of the season. There have been several occasions where we have seen other adult eagles passing through the area. A three-year-old juvenile and two unknown adults were seen at Huffman Lake this weekend. This time of year adult eagles begin to get the instinctive urge to mate and nest. Those without an established homestead will search for unclaimed territory. Jim and Cindy eagerly (and quite effectively)chase them off. JBW/EEW
September 5, 2012 - It has been a while since I have posted an update because, quite frankly, there has been nothing to report.
Jim and Cindy and the kids disappeared in the middle of August and went on one of their extended fishing vacations. The local Osprey took advantage of their absence and enjoyed several weeks of unmolested fishing on Eastwood and Huffman Lakes.
Last week an adult eagle began fishing Huffman Lake. The low water level made for easy fishing. We assumed that it was Jim or Cindy but we were unable to properly identify the bird. Our assumptions were confirmed when it entered the well field and began visiting some of Jim and Cindy’s favorite perches. Two days later the other adult returned.
The three juveniles have not shown up. They may arrive later or they may never come home. They will spend the next three years living the nomadic lifestyle of immature Bald Eagles. I hope, and suspect, that they will pass by occasionally.
Jim and Cindy have other things on their minds. They are starting to show courting behavior as they are often seen perched side by side. This means that they will soon begin chasing each other across the crisp autumn skies and dancing in the clouds. It also means that we will finally find out if they are going to return to what is left of last year’s wind-damaged nest and begin rebuilding it for a new nesting season. JBW/EEW
August 15, 2012 - Jim and Cindy are busy doing eagle stuff. That means that they are enjoying the freedom that comes between successfully training one year’s eaglets to hunt and fish and the beginning of the new nesting season.
They are wandering off to parts unknown for a few days and then returning to the area. The juveniles are wandering some too. When they are in the area, they can still be seen perched atop the trees along Route 4 or flying above Eastwood and Huffman Lakes.
They often pass over Huffman Lake heading to the northeast. This has given rise to the speculation that they may be fishing at Rainbow Lakes on 235 at Route 4. These are privately owned pay-lakes, but I doubt if they are paying the admission fee.JBW/EEW
July 30, 2012 - Cindy may be back. She had been gone for quite a while. She pulled the same disappearing act last year after the eaglets had fledged from the nest. She returned only after Jim had done all the hard work of training the young eagles how to fish and hunt. Saturday morning two adult eagles were seen flying together low in the sky above the well field. One was clearly Jim so we assume that the other was Cindy.
The juveniles are somewhat harder to find now. They are doing well and may be hunting and fishing on their own.We have had no reports of anyone actually seeing any of them successfully catch a fish, but the timing is right and they are no longer constantly following Jim around. This indicates that they may be more self-sufficient when it comes to finding a meal. They have also been seen wandering the local skies alone lately. Yesterday I saw one of our young eagles high over Huffman Dam being swooped upon by three Red Wings. By the time I had driven to Huffman Lake to see if I could spot the birds, all seemed quiet. After a few minutes, a single juvenile passed slowly overhead and drifted on to the north. This too points to the trio growing more independent.
We have heard reports of a one-year-old juvenile fishing the waters of the Great Miami River around Needmore Road. This is an area claimed by Jim and Cindy and an area that they fish almost daily. It is entirely possible that this young eagle is Pride.JBW/EEW
July 18, 2012 - The hot summer weather has returned and it has brought higher humidity along with it. Bald Eagles are very adaptable birds and are found throughout North America. The can tolerate the Florida heat as well as the frigid temperatures of Alaska.
Jim and Cindy and their three eaglets are doing quite well, although they are doing a lot of panting, feather fluffing and perching in the shade (sometimes all three things at once) to stay cool. Another cooling habit that you may see is the spreading of their wings while perched to allow air movement to cool their exposed body. They are also taking the occasional dip in the lake and splashing around a bit which not only cools and cleanses the bird but temporally fends off flies, gnats and other insect pests. Besides that, playing in the water is just plain fun!
All five eagles have been seen at Huffman MetroPark Lake in the early mornings. Sometimes the three juveniles will fly together above the lake and Jim is usually nearby. Cindy, as was the case last year, is less involved in the training. They are flying quite well now and landing presents little challenge to them. The trio has also been seen doing some low-level soaring.
The devices installed on the utility poles have been somewhat effective but we are still working on the problem. We are focusing our efforts now on luring them away from the hazardous power poles by providing a few alternative perches.
At this point, the nesting season is over. Technically it ended when the last eaglet fledged, but the eaglets still return to the tree to be fed once in a while. I saw one of the eaglets watching for fish from the shore of their lake yesterday. They know that dinner is in there somewhere and soon they will learn how to extract a fresh fillet from the watery storage unit.
With the end of the 2012 nesting season, we have also reached the point in the year where the eagle cams will be shut down. Roger and I will keep you updated on their antics and activities throughout the next several months through these updates and pictures. JBW/EEW
July 11, 2012 - The recent heat wave is now history and I think all of us are glad that it is over. Jim, Cindy and the family seem to be breathing a lot easier lately. Even in the shady recesses of a leafy tree the air was hot, humid and stagnant. Those conditions lead to a lot of panting. I am grateful that the eaglets had fledged and were not still confined to the roofless nest high atop their sycamore tree where there is little escape from the relentless heat.
Speaking of the nest, the eaglets return to it often and call out to Mom and Dad for food. They will be fishing on their own within a month but for now they are content to perch and watch Dad do the work. Once in a while they will tag along, flying above Jim as he goes fishing. They are learning so much but there is still much to learn.
One thing that they must learn is to stay away from those utility poles. Yesterday, three of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers spent 8 hours in the wellfield with DP&L crews as they installed avian protection devices on 5 more poles that the eaglets had been frequenting. The devices stop the eaglets from perching on the arms of the poles between the conductors. Touching two wires at once would electrocute the bird. An eaglet in Iowa met that fate on July 3rd, one year to the day after Spirit, Jim and Cindy’s 2011 eaglet,had his fatal encounter with a utility pole. Yesterday we also tried various devices to block access to the top of the actual poles as well. I went back in and checked the poles this morning and found that all of the protected poles were unoccupied! Other protective action is in the planning stages and I will update you on these at some future date.
Cindy has begun making pretty regular stops at the lake at Huffman MetroPark and both adults can be seen soaring over Eastwood Lake daily. The juveniles are fairly content to fly above the lake within the well field although they too occasionally wander a bit. They are flying much more like eagles now although their cadence, flight path and power still needs some work. JBW/EEW
Update June 30, 2012 - Special Storm Update
Yesterday’s storms ripped through the well field with their 80+ mph winds leaving fallen limbs, trees and debris everywhere. The damage took down some power lines and knocked out the eagle-cams. We inspected the area in the twilight last night and were very concerned about the apparent damage to the nesting tree.
This morning, just after daybreak, we were able to better assess the situation. The top layer of the eagle’s nest is gone. Three sycamores just east of Jim and Cindy’s tree lost their top halves in the storm, but the nest tree seems to still be intact. The area was strangely quiet. We were finally able to find one eaglet atop another tree near the nest. Eventually Jim flew by carrying a duck followed shortly by both other eaglets! All appeared healthy! Then Cindy flew into the remains of the nest and was soon joined by one of the eaglets.
This means that all 5 eagles are well in spite of the storm. The nest, although now much smaller, is still being used. Additionally, if they rebuild it this fall, which is very likely, the nest will not be as large and therefore be less weight for the tree to bear. JBW/EEW
Update June 27, 2012 - Up, up and away times 3!
Yesterday, at 6:45 PM the third and final eaglet successfully fledged from the 2012 nest! As its siblings sat a short distance away, watching from high in a tree, the third eaglet left the northeast side of the nest and flew a big circle right back to the nest. Both siblings then flew into the nest as if to congratulate the young flyer before flying right back to the tree.
The third eaglet then flew again. On this flight the big circle lead it to a different sycamore tree where it tried to land on the small top branches. The eaglet sank into the greenery struggling to free itself from its entanglement. After about a minute it had worked its way through the branches and twigs and flew back to the nest. (Lesson #1-Ten pounds of eagle cannot be supported by small branches and twigs.)
Now that all three are flying the real training begins. The nest activity will wane as the lessons will take the 5 eagles deeper into the well field and into the air over the many lakes in the area. Chances of viewing the eagles in the area will increase as the training sessions continue during the next 2 months.JBW/EEW
Update June 20, 2012 - Up, up and away times 2!
Yesterday, shortly after 2 PM the second eaglet successfully fledged from the nest leaving only one, very lonely eaglet behind in a suddenly uncrowded nest.
The “little one” in the nest is being very well fed. Cindy brought in a fish which she carried in her beak, and Jim brought in a duck. After the duck was delivered one of the fledged eaglets flew into the nest to assist its sibling in eating the feast. As it flew in, Cindy was flying next to it as if to escort it back to the nest. She watched it land, turned and headed back to the east possibly to the third eaglet. You can clearly hear the young flyers calling to each other or to Mom and Dad. Jim spent most of the afternoon perched on limbs overhanging the Mad River where he can easily both guard the nest and watch the flowing water for fish.
Each day the juveniles will hone their flying skills. For now they are more like songbirds flying from tree to tree. Before long they will begin acting more like eagles as they perch to watch the parents hunt and fish. Then the will tag along on these expeditions and along the way they will learn to soar! JBW/EEW
Update June 17, 2012 - Up, up and away!
Father’s Day morning, between 8 AM and noon, one of our three eaglets successfully fledged from the nest! Shortly after noon, it was spotted in the top of a tree several trees to the west of the aerie, sitting in an abandoned Great Blue Heron nest. It appears to be uninjured and healthy. (See photos.) Jim and Cindy were keeping watch over their young adventurer and had delivered food to the nest to feed its siblings.
The oldest of the three 2012 eaglets was 84 days old Sunday. I assume this is the one that has flown. Interestingly last year eaglets, Spirit and Pride, were 83 and 85 days old when they fledged.
Although the eagle-cam season is winding down, keep watching. The other two eaglets will fledge this week and maybe you will see our new flier return home! JBW/EEW
Update June 14, 2012 - Anticipation is rising and so are the eaglets.
One in particular seems to be a little ahead of the pack. While all three are regularly surfing in the breeze a foot or two above the nest, Tuesday afternoon one eaglet rose about 12 feet into the air and then settled gently back into the nest. This was a very controlled and intentional flight. There appeared to be no panic or awkward fluttering, just determination and focus. We are assuming that the more advanced flyer is the eldest of the trio, but the others aren’t far behind. These short flights will become more and more frequent until a horizontal element is added either on purpose or by a shift in the wind.
Jim and Cindy are always close by and watching as the eaglets develop their abilities, muscle strength, coordination and confidence. JBW/EEW
Update June 11, 2012 - The eaglets are ready to fledge. Nature has taken its course. They are strong and healthy juvenile Bald Eagles. Now it is up to them.
This could be the week for flight! They are almost 80 days old now and Spirit and Pride fledged at 83 and 85 days last year. The average fledging age is 70 to 92 days. They are fully ready to fly but like a child learning to walk or ride a bicycle, they just have to let go and go!
This is also a very dangerous time. We will keep you posted as best we can as to how the adventure unfolds. Unfortunately, the eagle-cam can only tell the beginning of the story. The yet unwritten future promises to be full of ups and downs, both figuratively and literally.
But for now, watch closely, for the moment of flight is at hand!JBW/EEW
Update June 4, 2012 - The eaglets are flying, but only on the vertical axis.
They are so fun to watch at this point. Sometimes they line up like jumbo jets on a taxiway. Then the one in front, facing into the wind at the edge of the nest, positions its feet just right, carefully extends its wings and flaps. The flapping grows in intensity until the eaglet is 1 to 3 feet above the nest and then slows as the eaglet descends back to safety. That eaglet then moves to the back of the line while the other two step forward and the process repeats itself. At other times it is pure chaos as all three eaglets attempt to flap creating a blanket of unstable air that makes takeoff impossible and theyonly end up clubbing each other with those clumsy wings.
Jim and Cindy spend most of their time in the fourth tree to the east where they are safely away from the crowded confusionof the nest but close enough to respond if one of their eaglets should flutter and fall to the ground. The first feeble flight will be just that. An awkward flight to the ground with a tumbling summersault for a landing, a period of time to regain composure and then a flight up to a nearby limb where Jim or Cindy may join them to assess any damage and bring them encouragement and possibly food. That time is not quite here, yet.
But each and every flap brings better coordination and builds stronger muscles. With each awkward beat the clumsiness diminishes just a bit. Each eaglet is fully capable of flying but they must master the basics before they tempt fate. The Eastwood Eagle Watchers and the City of Dayton well field crews are watching as well, and we are ready to assist the eaglets should the need arise. The odds are that not all three eaglets will survive that first launch and the chances are even greater that all three will not survive their first year. That is nature. That is the “wild” part of wildlife.JBW/EEW
Update May 21, 2012 - The eaglets are almost fully feathered. The oldest is now 57 days old and just two weeks shy of being a viable flyer. Their hopping and flapping is beginning to look more and more like fluttering and will soon resemble short hovers above the nest. Then we will see short hopping flights to nearby branches. Even though their sycamore is leafing out, the viewing is still pretty good.
Jim and Cindy are doing more and more soaring above the well field and Eastwood Lake. I recently watched Cindy cross low over Harshman Road and circle higher and higher over Eastwood before rapidly diving back to the nesting area.
They are also following the Mad River towards downtown again. It is funny and frustrating how many times I and my camera are at Eastwood when one follows the river or the other way around. JBW/EEW
Update May 9, 2012 - The eaglets continue to eat and grow. But they are not alone. The neighboring Great Blue Heron rookery is full of noisy babies and the Red Tail Hawks are nesting as well. Also last week saw the return of the Eastern Kingbirds and the Ospreys. The new arrivals have led to several interesting observations this week.
Jim and Cindy continue to chase off any intruder that may pose a threat to the eaglets but they too are sometimes pursued. Last week I saw one of the Red Tail Hawks swooping down on one of the adult eagles as it was flying over the well field. After the third swoop, the eagle flipped over in midair projecting its talons towards the Red Tail and the hawk grew tired of the game. Then today I saw Jim or Cindy flying with an Eastern Kingbird riding on its back. Kingbirds are very territorial and sometimes go eagle-surfing across the skies.
Also today one of the eagles chased down an Osprey fishing the lake along Route 4 and appeared to relieve it of the fish it had caught.
Meanwhile the Red Tails are still hunting from atop the utility poles with the avian protection devices installed. I am hoping that the much larger eaglets will find these poles less attractive this year. We will have to wait until June to find out how well the devices work.JBW/EEW
Update May 4, 2012 - Dayton Power and Light crews returned to the well field Thursday, May 3rd and installed the avian protection devices on the poles closest to the nesting tree. We were not sure how Jim and Cindy would react to ongoing work so near the nest and the eaglets. I had advised the workers to be ready for a possible encounter with an agitated eagle, especially the workers hoisted aloft in the bucket.
They arrived at the gate at 1 PM and started on the transformer pole that is just a stone’s throw from the nest with the intention that if the eagles accepted their presence there the other poles would be no problem and they could proceed quickly and then get out of the area. Eagles can be very protective of their area and defend it fiercely from any intruder. The weather was great so the eaglets would not be exposed to inclement conditions should the adults become startled.
The eagles were amazing! Cindy flew overhead for a couple of erratic passes and then went off to hunt. Jim and the trio of eaglets watched with great interest as the show continued below them. Cindy returned multiple times with fish and even a turtle. She knew we were there and wanted us to know that she knew we were there, but never once appeared threatening. I knew they were accustomed to seeing well field crews nearby but this response was much better than anticipated. Unfortunately the crews ran out of devices before they ran out of poles.JBW/EEW
Update April 27, 2012 - Dayton Power and Light crews began installing avian protection devices on the crossbars of the utility poles in the well field Thursday! The plastic devices, that resemble large, inverted Vs, are designed to discourage this year’s eaglets from perching on the utility poles. Landing on these poles draws the eaglets dangerously close to the electrical wires that the poles support. Hitting a wire with a wing could be disastrous and there is the real threat of electrocution posed by the transformers and wiring. The 2011 eaglet, Spirit, had a fatal encounter with one of these poles in July of last year.
Eastwood Eagle Watcher volunteers will be present throughout the installation process to monitor the eagles and to advise the crews in the event that Jim and Cindy become too agitated with the work.
Yesterday’s activity was being closely watched by the eagles but they showed no change from their normal behavior. Eventually the four poles nearest the nesting tree will have to be worked on but the eagles are accustomed to mowing activity and other Water Department crews in the area. We do expect that the adults may become mildly agitated for a short time as the devices are installed on these poles.
All three eaglets are doing fine and were often seen anxiously awaiting the delivery of fresh fish. The adults are leaving the eaglets alone in the nest for longer and longer times now. At one point yesterday Jim and Cindy flew into the nest within 30 seconds of each other and they were both carrying fish.JBW/EEW
Update April 20, 2012 - One, two, three! To quote the late Davy Jones, “I’m a believer!” I was able to clearly see all three eaglet heads at the same time! This is extremely good news as it means that there is a great likelihood that at least two will survive their first year.
The new camera replacement for Camera 2 is really sending out some good images, especially in the afternoon when the sun is farther west. The eaglets are clearly visible and as they grow and explore their surroundings, this will be the camera to watch. JBW/EEW
Update April 19, 2012 - Could there be three? Could there be three eaglets in the nest!? Yesterday two experienced and respected eaglewatchers reported seeing three fuzzy, gray heads bobbling in the nest. The first report came early in the morning and the second came in the afternoon. I am the “I’ll believe it when I see it” sort of person and I just haven’t seen three heads yet. Eaglets have large wings for their little bodies to carry so the often drag them awkwardly behind them and those wings tend to flail and flop around. Their wings may be mistaken for an additional bird at times. But the reports came from very reliable people and I want to believe them but it is almost too good to be true.
If there are three and if the observation of a dead eaglet being removed from the nest, as I reported in my last update, is also true then Jim and Cindy successfully hatched out four eaglets! This is rare indeed. The feeding has slowed down some which supports the four to three (or three to two) scenario. Again only time will tell. Either way, 70-92 days after hatching the then adult size eaglets will fledge which is going to make the entire month of June very interesting. JBW/EEW
Update April 12, 2012 - Watched the cam for 15 Min. Whew !!!! I saw TWO. Yes 2 simultaneously as Cindy was feeding them. They looked well. Whoooooo Hoooooo.
Earlier today I received an email stating that the sender had witnessed one of the adult eagles moving what seemed to be a dead eaglet. He was wondering if anyone else had seen the fleeting glimpse on the eagle-cam of what appeared to be a deceased eaglet. The potential actuality of one of the eaglet not surviving is something to consider.
The mortality rate of eaglets is still fairly high, although the survival numbers seem to be improving. We know that Jim and Cindy are clearly feeding more than one eaglet because of the amount of food being brought to the nest and both adults simultaneously feeding young in separate areas of the nest. Two eaglets in a brood are common as our eagles proved last year. There is the somewhat less common occurrence of three eaglets in a single brood while broods of four eaglets are rare. Although Jim and Cindy are excellent providers, when there are multiple eaglets, the older, stronger, more aggressive feeder may consume so much of the food that the younger, weaker sibling will become malnourished and die. This possibility increases if there are three eaglets in the nest as the youngest has to compete with two nest-mates and is several days younger than the oldest eaglet. Although while watching the eagle-cam we can clearly see the grey head of a healthy eaglet peeking out of the nest every so often, without a camera above the nest we cannot be sure of what the eaglets are doing.
Speaking of cameras, a better camera has replaced the new “camera two” so the image in the live stream is much improved. The position, angle and view of this camera will clearly show the eaglets as they begin moving around in the nest more and testing out their wings by hovering above the nest in the latter part of May.
Update March 28, 2012 - I know it has only been two days since the last update but things are happening out there! We are pretty sure that there are at least two eaglets in the nest because on several occasions, after delivering food to the nest, both Jim and Cindy have appeared to be feeding eaglets in separate areas of the nest! This double feeding technique will assure that all the eaglets get a chance to feed and a good start in life. It is not uncommon for the older and larger eaglet to feed aggressively enough that the younger and smaller siblings become malnourished or even starve.
Another change is that the adults are once again crossing Harshman Road to fish the waters of Eastwood Lake or just to soar above the lake. We have taken pictures of them from that area each of the last two days.
As expected, Jim and Cindy have also become more aggressive in defending the area near the nest. Yesterday they were seen repeatedly chasing off Great Blue Heron that wandered too close to their sycamore tree. They have been pretty vocal about it too. After chasing away the intruder they perch in the heron’s old tree and appear to scream, “This is mine! Stay away!
One final note: Thank you for your patience with the movement of Eagle-Cam 1. It needs some minor adjustment in its alignment but crews have been waiting for a less crucial time to enter the area. Eagle-Cam 2 is doing an excellent job capturing Jim and Cindy’s comings and goings and will show the eaglets well when they are old enough to climb onto the rim of the nest in a few weeks. JBW/EEW
Update March 26, 2012 - Pass out the cigars! We have an eaglet! There are apparently more eggs too!
Were you watching the eagle-cam this weekend? If you were, then you probably noticed the obvious change in the behavior of Jim and Cindy. All three signs that I suggested were just around the corner in my March 19 update were present!
Saturday afternoon the adult eagle in the nest began inspecting the eggs more frequently. By Sunday afternoon both adults were in the nest on multiple occasions. Then several times there were quick visits to the nest by the non-incubating adult. By early evening it was clear that food was being delivered to the nest. The most important sign was that when the adult eagle delivered food, it stayed to shred it and feed bits of it to an unseen eaglet, still hidden behind the wall of the nest. While that eagle fed the new eaglet, the other adult stayed in the nest and continued to incubate which would tend to confirm that there is at least one more egg in the clutch! When the adult shredding the food flew off, the incubating adult stood and gently nudged the eaglet back towards the remaining eggs before settling down again.
All of this activity suggests that the first eaglet of 2012 probably pipped sometime Thursday or Friday (36 or 37 days after incubation began) and fully hatched sometime Saturday, March 24. It also means the beginning of more frequent hunting trips by Jim and Cindy providing a better opportunity for eagle watching around the area of Eastwood Lake. JBW/EEW
Update March 23, 2012 - Where are the eaglets? Have the eagles frightened the stork away?
To answer these questions we must look at what we know. Jim and Cindy were successful last nesting season so there is no reason to believe that they won’t be successful this year. “Due dates” can be off, especially if you can’t see when the eggs are deposited in the nest. Cindy began incubation behavior, our only visible guide, 37 days ago. The average incubation period for Bald Eagles is 30-35 days. Eagles lay 1-3 eggs with a day or two between each egg. Therefore if Cindy laid the first egg the first day that she took to the nest and that first egg was healthy, they should have an eaglet up there. If the eggs were laid a few days later and if there are multiple eggs we are still within th It has been a while since I have posted an update because, quite frankly, there has been nothing to report.at 30-35 day window.
One other factor to consider is the eaglet itself. Eaglets may take 24-48 hours to free themselves from the egg. Once free, they are exhausted and rest for sometimes 24 hours before being ready to feed. An eaglet hatched yesterday will begin feeding today. Since all we can see is the actions of Jim and Cindy we may not know of the new arrival until the day after the big event. Wildlife is wild. We will all find out together. The eagle-cam is the ultimate reality TV. JBW/EEW
Update March 19, 2012 - This should be the week that we will see some changes in the behavior of Jim and Cindy!We believe that the first egg was laid on February 15th, so the 35 days of incubation should end this Wednesday. The eggs are only about 3 inches long and are by now very full of balled-up eaglets. As they hatch the eaglets will still need to be kept warm for several weeks so one parent will stay in the nest but there will be more stirring around up there. Watch for movement that indicates that Jim and Cindy are shredding tiny pieces of fish and gently feeding it to the hatchlings.
The eaglets will be all dark beak and dark, useless feet. They will be totally defenseless, but their parents will be even more aggressive in defending the area from any possible threat. Their bodies will be covered with white fluff that will soon give way to gray fuzz that is a much better insulating coat. Then, real feathers will begin to sprout. Jim and Cindy’s feeding runs will gradually increase in frequency. It still amazes me that these chick-size eaglets will be as big as their parents in 10 weeks. This will make the next 70 days prime eagle watching opportunities.
Although the eagle-camsmay have shown what appeared to be an empty nest at times, rest assured that there has always been an incubating eagle inside. With a good pair of binoculars, a good scope or a good camera you can clearly see the white head and yellow beak from Eastwood Lake when the sunlight cooperates. Now that spring is upon us, the field visits should becomeeven more comfortable.
I have met a lot of friendly eagle enthusiasts at Eastwood in the past few weeks and every single one of them have mentioned how much they enjoy watching the eagle-cam. I know this means a lot to all of those involved in this project. Thank you for your kind words and your support.JBW/EEW
Update March 15, 2012 - I was asked today about the recent change in behavior of whichever eagle is in the aerie on incubation duty. Someone had noticed more movement within the nest and asked if there could be an eaglet up there. As the embryo develops into an actual eaglet the egg becomes quite full and as the cramped eaglet begins to stir within the egg, the parent can feel the movement. Therefore they are more prone to inspect the clutch and reposition the eggs. I have read that the actual hatching process may take as long as 48 hours from when the eaglet first begins breaking through the eggshell until it fully emerges from the eggs. Unlike human birth where the mother’s body does the work of delivery, it is up to the eaglet to free itself. This is exhausting labor for the eaglet and requires periods of struggling with its escape from the shell and followed by periods of rest. It does appear that the parents are sensing movement from the eggs!
The weather forecast is calling for warm, mild days for the near future. Another thing to watch for is more time of both eagles being in the nest together, if even for just minutes. After all, the new arrivals are big news for them too.
Incidentally, today they are attempting to readjust the camera that has been moved slightly by the recent windy weather. JBW/EEW
Update March 5, 2012 - Only 16 more days to wait, give or take a few days. The high winds and storms of the last week have again blown Jim and Cindy to and fro but they have somehow survived. Every hour spent at the lake is the pretty much the same, a lot of looking at the nest and a quick glimpse of a distant eagle. The eagle-cam provides a much better view of the nest.
Last Tuesday, as I sat nest watching, I saw a juvenile eagle fly from over The Mad River, west of Harshman Road and head across the road towards Huffman Dam. My first thought was that it might be Pride, Jim and Cindy’s surviving eaglet. As I was watching it fly over the large lake east of Harshman, an adult eagle dropped from somewhere high in the blue skies, directly above the juvenile. When about 70 feet apart the juvenile sheared off to the north and the adult headed south towards the nest. I have seen Jim and Cindy aggressively defend the nest when another bird-of-prey, a possible threat to the eggs, wanders too close to the nest. This encounter seemed less intense. If it was Pride, perhaps the adult eagle (either Jim or Cindy) did not perceive it as a great threat. If it was indeed Pride, the young eagle will soon get the message that it is time for it to move on.
Activity will pick up in the area of the nest after the eggs hatch and Jim and Cindy begin feeding the eaglets. Part of this activity will include the eagles very aggressively defending their territory from all intruders. JBW/EEW
Update February 27, 2012 - The waiting game continues. Now that there are eggs in the nest it is time to be patient and wait, and wait, and wait… (I have never been good at being patient.) We are only around 23 days away from the hatching of the first egg and then just a day or two more from the hatching of any additional eggs in the nest.
The view in the field is pretty much what you see on the eagle-cam, one awfully big nest. The recent high winds had the nest swaying quite a bit bringing to mind the Rock-a-by Baby lullaby. That song was inspired by just such a sight. Our nest in the treetop sure rocks when the wind blows but thankfully the bough did not break.
I have seen Jim and Cindy each taking their turn hunting and even soaring while the other incubates the eggs. I have heard one report of an adult eagle hunting on the ground near the side of Harshman Road. That is not a good habit to develop. They are 14 days ahead of last year’s events, but with the mild temperatures and little ice, the fishing should be pretty easy right now, and the squirrel, raccoon and groundhog families will soon be coming out to play.
When not feeding, the adult eagles will be conserving energy more and more as the March 21st hatching date approaches. Incubation is a constant vigil and late winter weather can make it hard on the adults but feeding growing eaglets is a much bigger challenge. JBW/EEW
February 17, 2012 - As I was watching the eagle-cam on Friday morning the bright sunshine allowed for a much clearer image. Jim was busily rearranging the sticks of the nest for around twenty minutes. At first I thought that he was alone in the nest but then Cindy stood up. She had been sitting in the center of the nest for the entire time but hidden from view. She walked to the edge of the nest and flew off. Within 60 seconds Jim had walked to the center of the nest, clearly rolled the egg(s), and knuckle-walked over them before settling down. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s update, this “changing of the guard” is exactly the confirmation we were looking for! There are definitely eggs in the nest! JBW/EEW
February 15, 2012 - As many of you have witnessed on the twoeagle-cams, Cindy spent the afternoon sitting low in the aerie. She would occasionally get up and walk around a bit, inspect the middle of the nest and then knuckle-walk back to the center to sit again with her tail slightly elevated. Jim was seen bringing food to her and looking around the center of the nest while Cindy dined, then he would fly off without sharing in the meal! After eating Cindy would waddle back to the center of the nest.
All of this appears to be the beginning of incubation behavior. We will know more if this activity continues over the next several days. My suspicion (and my hope) is that there may be one egg in the nest. Bald Eagles typically lay two eggs (sometimes one, sometimes three) a day or two apart. They will hatch about 35 days later in the order in which they were laid. If the first egg was deposited in the nest today, we will see a change in behavior on or around March 21st. That would mean the eaglet(s) would fledge around the first part of June, 70 to 90 days after hatching.
If both adults are seen together off the nest in the near future, today was just a dry run. If Cindy stays in the nest for a while and before long we see Jim fly into the nest, Cindy leave, and Jim knuckle-walk to the center and settle in, then we have confirmation of the presence of eggs. Also watch for the sitting eagle to stand and gently reposition the egg with the tip of its beak. If you are in the Eastwood Lake area, watch for the adult eagle not sitting in the nest to perch nearby and aggressively chase off any other birds that may pose a threat to the eggs. This will even include Pride if he should return home.
February 6, 2012 - As the 2012 nesting season begins, Jim and Cindy are intensifying their nest building activities and have often been seen mating in and near the well field, sometimes in the cornfield across Ohio Route 4 from the nesting area. Since the actual fertility period of a female Bald Eagle is relatively short, the frequent mating increases the odds for success.
Because the eagles are usually seen together out of the nest we are sure that egg-laying has not yet occurred. One of the first signs that there are eggs in the nest will be when one adult eagle is in the nest at all times. Other incubation behavior such as one eagle flying into the nest and leaving food for its sitting mate, an eagle arriving in the nest followed shortly by the other’s departure or knuckle-walking behavior may also be observed before long. In the past the eggs have been laid in late February or early March. The egg will hatch about 35 days after it is laid.
All of this activity suggests that the first eaglet of 2012 probably pipped sometime Thursday or Friday (36 or 37 days after incubation began) and fully hatched sometime Saturday, March 24. It also means the beginning of more frequent hunting trips by Jim and Cindy providing a better opportunity for eagle watching around the area of Eastwood Lake. JBW/EEW