Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bald Eagle eggs have hatched

In an earlier post I discussed the history of the Bald Eagle nest near our South Florida home, the first active nest in our County since the 1960s. At that time we were counting down the days until their eggs hatched.

Bald Eagle male in flight 20131202

The eagles in our local nest showed a change in behavior on January 11, which was the 35th day after we determined from our ground observations that the first egg had been deposited. Here is a photo of the male departing the nest after exchanging incubation duties with the female.

Bald Eagle 0912-5 adults complete exchange nest duties  20140111

While taking turns incubating the eggs they sat so deeply in the nest that they were nearly hidden behind the rim.  On the morning of January 11 the pair suddenly changed posture, sitting up higher, indicating that they were "tenting" a hatchling while continuing to incubate one or more additional eggs. Usually the non-incubating mate would be away for long periods, either foraging or roosting in trees some distance ftom the nest, but now both took an avid interest in the contents of the nest, looking down to tend and feed the new eaglet.

Parents Joy--left and Pride look into nest 2-20140117

Bald Eagle feeding eaglet 20140117

The hatching was publicized in local media and the next weekend many people came to visit the nest area, hoping to see one or more eaglets. Usually they have not been visible from the ground until they were over two weeks old.  We visited the nest most of the following mornings, hoping to see them. On January 20 we surmised there were at least two because the adults were carrying food to two different locations in the nest, but the chicks were just out of view. 

That afternoon photographer and eagle watcher Liza Morffiz Chevres obtained the first photo of two eaglets during a feeding. Look closely and see that there is one on each side of the parent's beak. Photo is the property of Liza and is used with her permission.





The next day started out with rain, but after the skies cleared Mary Lou and I visited the nest at about 12:15 PM We stayed for an hour. At first the female was on the nest sheltering and tending to the eaglets. The male was not around and the eaglets were not visible.

Bald Eagle female brooding young 20140119

Bald Eagle female at nest 20140121

Bald Eagle male calling 20140121

The male arrived, not carrying prey, and the pair called back and forth.

Bald Eagle male arrives without prey 4-20140119

He briefly roosted on the horizontal perch above the nest and then flew in a circle around the nest.

Bald Eagle male arrives without prey 2-20140119

The male returned to the perch and continued resting there until we departed.

Bald Eagle male roosting 20140121

In the meantime, the female began tearing at the large white bird that had been on the nest since the day before.

Bald Eagle female tearing at prey 20140121

Bald Eagle female tearing at prey 2-20140121

Bald Eagle female tearing at prey 3-20140121

After eating quite a bit she started feeding the eaglets.

Bald Eagle female feeding eaglets 20140121

The eaglets were hidden in the rear left portion of the nest, where the rim is also higher, so they remained out of view......until we finally caught sight of one.

Eaglet visible 2-20140121

Eaglet visible 20140121

The nest is full of feathers from prey, mostly White Ibises and Cattle Egrets. The wind blows the feathers and gives the impression that we are seeing the movement of an eaglet. On January 23 I took almost 300 photos of the eagles feeding their young, but in only one frame did I find this poor image of one of the eaglets: 

Bald Eaglet being fed 20140123

The next day the oldest eaglet was 13 days old. I visited the nest twice. In mid-morning it was cold and windy (mid 50s F). The female was roosting in a dead melaleuca tree to the west of the nest, her feathers ruffled by the wind.

Bald Eagle female roosting 0954 AM 20140124

The male was tending the nest and feeding the eaglets but we could not catch sight of them. Note his slender build and low sloping forehead.

Bald Eagle male on nest 0953AM 20140124


I visited the nest again at 1:30 PM and watched for an hour. For the first 20 minutes the nest appeared empty. The male was roosting on the horizontal limb near the top of the nest tree and the female was not present. 

Bald Eagle male roosting 0138PM 20140124

As I watched the apparently empty nest a little fuzzy white head popped up! 

Bald Eagle eaglet 0148 PM 20140124

Then the female flew into the nest and the eaglet again briefly reappeared. 

Bald Eagle female arrives 0151 PM 20140124 0151 20140124

Bald Eagle eaglet with female 0203 PM 20140124

She fed and covered the eaglets until the male flew in and displaced her at the nest. The male fed the eaglets and then settled down.

Bald Eagle male arrives 0149 PM 20140124

These are the 12th and 13th eaglets produced by this pair during the seven breeding seasons we have monitored their nest. For more information and photos of more recent events at the nest visit the Bald Eagles of Broward County FORUM at this link 

21 comments:

  1. Great post on the eagles. Your photos are amazing! Happy weekend!

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  2. fabulous birds! loved seeing this! :)

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  3. Thanks for the updated on the local Eagles, Ken. Your images are awesome.

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  4. Wow, how exciting Ken! A fabulous series of shots, just brilliant! I love the 3rd one of mom and dad looking down into the nest!

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  5. Incredible series of shots! Really impressive.

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  6. A great serie of photos!
    Well done!

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  7. Fantastic photos of the eagles! I hope the eaglets are doing well.

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  8. Really great post and pics. Superb

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  9. Fantastic, both the photos and the birds.

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  10. This is all so absolutely THRILLING!!!!

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  11. So many beautiful shots of them. It's cool to see both parents looking down at the babies even though you can't see them.

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  12. I am so jealous that you have been able to photograph this...but I am so glad you did so we could see it too.

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  13. If you like...
    My new B&W Blog: http://hanshb.wordpress.com/

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  14. What a stunning post with great commentary and outstanding imagary

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  15. Wonderful pictures and observations Ken ... thank you for sharing. "Ours" have decided now to feed both eaglets and the passive one has grown almost catching up.

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  16. What an awesome series. Imagine that tiny, fuzzy baby growing into such a magnificent bird.

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  17. Nice mixture of quality eagle shots. Good job!

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  18. Nice mixture of quality eagle shots. Good job!

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  19. That is all good news, your self and the rest oif the team are doing a great job of monitering, and your pics are stunning. By the way I haven't mentioned it before, but I think your header photo is great too.
    All the best Gordon.

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  20. Wonderful series of the care the adults give to their young.

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