One of my projects has been keeping watch over a Bald Eagle nest in neighboring Pembroke Pines. Over five breeding seasons, since 2008, I have collected information about their breeding activities. Dozens of other nest watchers who have an interest in protecting their habitat and learning about the eagles' behavior contribute their ground observations to my Pembroke Pines Eagle Nest Watch FORUM, and I compile the data to obtain a broader picture of their breeding biology. Here is a spreadsheet and a table comparing milestone events in each breeding cycle.
Watching an eagle at its nest can be like watching grass grow. Yet, sometimes subtle behavioral changes can signal important events, such as the laying of the first egg and its hatching. Although our attention may be focused on the eagle, we are not oblivious to other happenings.
Once a hummingbird appeared at the nest and perched right in front of an eagle as it was incubating. It was so interesting to ponder the difference in size between these two extremes that I totally forgot that I had a camera! Another time, an Osprey angrily followed an eagle that was carrying a fish to the nest site. Undoubtedly, the eagle had stolen its meal. Rather than flying directly to the nest, the eagle circled and flew off out of sight, emerging a few minutes later with the fish but without the Osprey.
However, I was lucky enough to capture some unexpected scenes. Most recently was an encounter between several Fish Crows and a Merlin, just one day after the single eaglet had fledged and disappeared. The crows were harassing one of the adult eagles as it was roosting near the nest. I interpreted this a a possible attempt to distract the eagle so that others of the flock could steal remains of prey that the adult had left in the nest to attract the missing youngster.
The crows repeatedly dived down just over the eagle's head whenever the eagle was occupied with preening.
The eagle seemed only mildly disturbed.
Just after I photographed one of the crows there was a rush of wings from behind me.
A Merlin was in full pursuit of the crow. I must apologize for the poor quality of my photos as the light was harsh and I did not have time to switch my shutter settings.
The crow headed for the Merlin's favorite roosting place, but had to yield its perch under attack.
The crow actually started out after the Merlin!
The battle went on for several minutes, the crow intent on returning to the falcon's favored roost.
Finally the crows relented and the Merlin settled down.
A couple of days before, a Cattle Egret stole my attention as it chased after Halloween Pennant dragonflies. The egret stealthily crept up on an insect (Click on the image to see the location of its prey).
Success! (Note that the egret has pinkish-orange breeding plumes).
Other incidental sightings of note include this Swallow-tailed Kite that passed directly over the eagle nest.
A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks courted on a tall light fixture nearby.
A dark morph Short-tailed Hawk, ready to pounce upon any unsuspecting smaller bird disguised itself by soaring in a flock of vultures.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk raced overhead.
A flock of Cedar Waxwings once appeared against a rainy sky.
A Palm Warbler visited as I watched the nest, up close and personal.
Flocks of long-legged waders, such as these Wood Storks, flew overhead.
A colony of Monk Parakeets occupied a nest on a light pole across the street from the nest.
An oddity was this Northern Mockingbird with a badly deformed bill. It was singing vigorously as I took its picture.
A Gray Squirrel tight-roped across in front of the eagle nest.
Some of the sightings must be classified as "un-natural."