Our local pair of Bald Eagles are expecting a new arrival on or about January 11. We have monitored this nest, located about 2 miles from our home, since it was discovered in the spring of 2008. In December, 2007 we saw a pair of eagles copulating on the roof of a home across our lake. The nest was finally discovered in March, 2009.
Adult eagles, presumably members of this pair, were sometimes seen singly, wandering in our general area during this past summer, but both appeared together at the nest in mid-September. Within a few weeks they began adding sticks to the nest, which is now very large-- at least 6 feet high and just as deep.
They sometimes did not agree as to the exact placement of the building materials. Here the female tried to move a stick while the male was sitting on it, and he reached around as if to stop her.
The female won the tug of war.
With the nest enlarged and renovated to the pairs' satisfaction, the male positioned a dried palm frond, to become part of the softer lining.
They often took a break from their duties and roosted on the snags of dead Melaleucas nearby. This is the male.
The female is noticeably larger and heavier .
They sometimes try to rest upon rather precarious twigs.
As egg-laying time approached, they often spent time perching together. This time they stopped traffic by selecting a dead tree almost over a busy roadway.
Incubation began promptly as soon as the first egg was laid. One or two more eggs may also have been deposited over the next 3 to 5 days, but presently there is no way of knowing. Without a nest camera we must depend up on the behavior of the female. In the days before egg laying she spent much time sitting on the nest, but interrupted this by flying away and foraging. On the morning of December 7 she settled deep in the nest and just remained there.
Both adults took turns incubating during the day, usually about every two hours or so, but the female seemed to spend all night on the nest. The sitting adult often called out before the other approached. Here the male kept calling until the female settled in, then he took flight.
He continued calling from a nearby perch.
On January 5 she got up to stretch her wings and rearrange the egg(s).
Over the past six breeding seasons, we have observed 11 eaglets, of which 9 are known to have successfully fledged. Interestingly, as we watched the above behavior, an immature eagle flew in front of our nest. I was able to snap a couple of poor photos. Other observers later photographed it roosting near the nest. It is very likely the eaglet that was produced last year.
Ground observers will be watching closely this weekend for signs that the egg has hatched. This is usually indicated by a change in the incubation posture-- the adult will sit higher in the nest, "tenting" the chick with her wings while also continuing to incubate any additional eggs. Both parents will usually spend some time looking down into the nest like proud parents. Within two to four days we will witness feeding, and after about 7 to 10 more days we hope to see a little puff of white down appear over the edge of the nest.
For more photos and information, including the announcement of hatching, visit our "Bald Eagles of Broward County FORUM" at this link.