Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bald Eagle egg about to hatch

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.

Bald Eagle female and male rearrange stick 20131127

The female won the tug of war.

Bald Eagle female rearranges stick 20131127

With the nest enlarged and renovated to the pairs' satisfaction, the male positioned a dried palm frond, to become part of the softer lining.

Bald Eagle male moves palm frond 20131130
They often took a break from their duties and roosted on the snags of dead Melaleucas nearby. This is the male.

Bald Eagle male roosting 2-20131127

The female is noticeably larger and heavier .

Bald Eagle female roosting 20131127

They sometimes try to rest upon rather precarious twigs.

Bald Eagle landing 5-20131127

 Bald Eagle landing 3-20131127

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.

Bald Eagle female and male 2-20131118

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.

Bald Eagle adult incubating 20140105

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. 

Bald Eagle female on right arrives 20131219

Bald Eagle male departing 20131219

He continued calling from a nearby perch.

Bald Eagle female calling 20131220

On January 5 she got up to stretch her wings and rearrange the egg(s).

Bald Eagle adult tending nest 2-20140105

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.

Bald Eagle juvie 2nd year 20140105

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.


  1. Ken, awesome post and photos on the eagles and the nest.. It is cool that these birds are doing so well now. Have a happy weekend!

  2. just magnificent!!! i hope they have a successful brood this year!

  3. It's really neat that you've personally observed all these behaviors Ken. We only watch 'ours' on video most of the time, with as many visits as we can manage, but our visits are not necessarily at the optimum times. They chased away an immature the other day. (The two eggs hatched Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.)

  4. Beautiful pics! Loved the one of the pair perched on the branch with the green behind them. Fascinating behavior; enjoyed reading all about it.

  5. HI Kenneth how wonderful to have photographs this series of shot regarding the Eagles. It will be exciting to see the Eagle chicks when they hatch. Just a pity someone cannot get a camera above them to record all the action.

  6. Truly magnificent birds, and stunning captures.

  7. Absolutely fabulous photos! How exciting to wait for the arrival of the babies!

  8. Excellent photos of these magnificent birds!

  9. This is all just phenomenal!!!!

  10. Wow......these are magnificent captures!

  11. Perfect photos, it is great to such birds and a place like this nearby.

  12. how wonderful to be able to study them up close like this. Gorgeous images. :)

  13. An incredible post... I really enjoyed it, and the photography is excellent. Kept me fascinated from start to finish!!

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  15. Awesome awesome shots!!! You are so lucky to have observed them nesting. I would love to see this happen one day.

  16. Wonderful series of photos. That nest looks good and roomy. How exciting to be able to observe the eagle pair as they await their hatchling.

  17. What a nice chronicle of your eagles! We wish them success.

  18. Beautiful photos I love the majesty of Bald Eagles.

  19. What a joy, fascinating to be art of this, brilliant post and a post to cherish in the future, very well done

  20. A brilliant set of photos Ken. I can imagine the nest being six feet across, but six feet high as well is an awful lot of sticks. They deserve their success after all that hard work and dedication.

  21. Wonderful shots of bald eagle.

  22. Wonderful shots of bald eagle.

  23. Excellent shot. So glad you are and have been monitoring this event.
    We have several nest in our area but we just pass by and take pics when we see the pairs around. To watch so closely and to actually know what is going is amazing. MB

  24. A great series of photos - they are magnificent birds. I look forward to seeing photos of the next part when the young ones hatch.

  25. I can't wait for an update!!! Keep us posted Ken!! [ps...giggled at your play on words in the comment you left for me. :-)]

  26. Very exciting! Your photos and text are wonderful! What a treat to witness this!


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