Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bald Eagles trying for a family-- again

The first "Cold" full Moon of winter rises over our lake on Christmas night:

Christmas Moon over lake HDR 20151225

A small aircraft flies across its face:

 Moon plane sequence 3 20151225

The Moon sets over the wetlands the next morning:

Christmas Moon setting HDR 20151226

With local residents, we have been observing a Bald Eagle nest over the past eight years. It all started on December 4, 2007, when I observed a pair of eagles mating on the roof of a home across the lake from us. An adult, presumably one of this pair, visited our lake over the next few weeks. I saw it carrying prey towards the open space to the NW, where Mary Lou and I often walked, but found no evidence of a nest.

2007_12_4_DoubleEagle 016CROP

Through Internet contacts, I learned that several neighbors had also been looking for a nest. Previously, for as long as two years, the eagles had often been seen near a particular patch of woodland in the City of Pembroke Pines, about two miles NW of our home. On March 15, 2008 the nest was located. A fully fledged eaglet was roosting above it. We named the eaglet "P Piney One," the first of thirteen eaglets known to have hatched, of which all but two survived after fledging.

The male of the original pair was known as "Pride," and his mate was called "Joy." Here they are at the onset of the next breeding season, on December 11, 2008:

Eagle Pair at Nest 20081211

They laid the first of their two eggs on or about December 13, 2008, and the first hatched about January 17, 2009. Here are their two eaglets (middle school students named them Hope and Justice) on February 13, 2009:

Two Chicks 20090213

Under the watchful eyes of many eagle lovers, these two fledged successfully in early April. Every year since then they were succeeded by triplets (Lucky, Chance and Courage) in 2009, P Piney 7 through P Piney 11 through 2012, and finally Honor and Glory in 2013. These last two eaglets took their first flights in early April, 2014. Honor, the older of the two, flapped aggressively while Glory moved out of the way (April 1, 2014):

Bald Eaglet Honor flapping 20140401

Here is Glory, alone on the nest after Honor took her first flight:

Bald Eaglet Glory alone on nest 4-20140404

For about a month both eaglets returned to the nest for feeding. As is their habit, they migrated away to the north by the end of May. Pride and Joy returned to work on the nest as usual in late 2014, but Joy suddenly disappeared at the end of October. This is the last photo of the pair at the nest, on October 30, 2014:

Bald Eagle pair at nest 02-20141030

Despite the absence of his mate, over the next six weeks Pride kept working on the nest alone:

Bald Eagle male 0957AM 7-20141128

Pride sometimes disappeared for a few days at a time. We wondered if he was looking for a new mate. Then, suddenly, on December 7, 2014, a young female appeared at the nest site with Pride. She was probably not quite 4 years old, as she still showed dark streaks on her beak, head and tail. She came to be known as "Jewel."

Bald Eagle new female 06-20141207

Pride, now at least 12-13 years old, interacted with Jewel:

Bald Eagle male and female interacting 03-20141207

Although they worked on the nest together, Jewel never spent much time on it. This photo was taken on January 11, 2015. Normally we would have expected her to become broody by then:

Bald Eagles Pride and Female 20150111

The pair appeared to copulate successfully on January 28, 2015, and again a few days later:

Bald Eagles mating 3-20150128

They stayed together but Jewel never gave indication that she was inclined to raise a family, despite the urging of Pride, who left food on the nest for her. Pride spent quite a bit of time sitting deep in the nest, leading us to consider the possibility that Jewel had deposited one or more eggs but lacked the instinct to incubate them. In any event, the pair continued to associate with one another. Jewel's head became nearly pure white and she began replacing her dark-tipped tail feathers with white ones. Here she is on January 29:

Bald Eagle female with fish 992-20150128

Both continued to visit the nest into the spring. Here they are together on March 16, 2015. Pride is the smaller eagle in the foreground:

Bald Eagle pair on nest 20150316

After mid-March there were a few sightings of one or sometimes both eagles near the nest. On September 12, 2015 both returned to the nest and began working to restore it. Here, on October 25, 2015 they cooperate in rearranging sticks. Jewel is on the left:

Bald Eagles L-R Female and male 20151024

Jewel began to take more time on the nest, certainly acting "broody." Some ground observers thought she might have started to lay eggs, but she sometimes got up and moved about. On December 12, 2015, as Pride watched her sitting in the nest, she suddenly called out, and Pride joined her in a duet:

Bald Eagles happy couple 07-20151212

She continued calling, and Pride copulated with her on the nest:

Bald Eagles copulating 04- 20151212

Pride returned to his perch:

Bald Eagle Pride HDR 01-20151212

In my opinion, the female would not likely have signaled her receptivity if she already had laid one or more eggs. Another photographer then told me she had photos of them copulating on the nest just the day before. She stayed on the nest but was sitting high until she settled very deep on December 13 and continued without interruption. I presume that this was the date the first egg was deposited. If true, it would hatch in 5 weeks, or about January 17, 2016.

On December 20, Jewel occupied a roost in an adjacent tree while Pride took up incubation duties. As you can see, she has transformed into nearly full adult (5th year) plumage:

Bald Eagle female 20151220

Otherwise, this was usually the most we were able to see of Jewel over the past two weeks. Some observers thought the nest was empty and were surprised when the top of her head suddenly appeared:

Bald Eagle incubating 20151221

If you are interested, you may view a spreadsheet which details the major events in the lives of the occupants of this nest at THIS LINK. Follow current reports on the eagles at the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle Nest Watch FORUM.

Eagle watchers observe safely under a blue sky:

Eagle Watchers 20140117

A Carolina Wren has a nest in the brush under the eagle nest:

Carolina Wren 20150322

The wren rests on the fence in front of the nest...

Carolina Wren on fence 20150322

...while a male Julia heliconian feasts on Lantana nectar along the fence line:

Julia heliconian male on Lantana 20150322


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura

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Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

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37 comments:

  1. Absolutely brilliant captures, Kenneth! And your moon photo is superb!

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  2. Hello, I love your eagle images, awesome series. Cool moon shot.
    I wish you and your family all the best in 2016, a Happy, Healthy New Year!

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  3. i hope they will be successful this year! loved the moon shot w/ the plane!

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  4. Great photos of the eagles. I enjoyed reading about them. I had my class watch an eagles nest a couple of years ago, on a wildlife camera.

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  5. Oh, I have so loved every picture and all the details! and funny thing, the Carolina wren is my absolute favorite bird, and the eagles is right up there. I guess I should say if a person can have a favorite bird...but just love the Carolina wren's personality, and such a big song coming from such a little body!

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  6. Magnificent photography of the eagles especially ~ others are great too ~ Let's hope for new babies in January ~

    Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year,
    artmusedog and carol

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  7. That was neat. I do hope you get baby Eagles in 2016 - What a great start to the New Year. - I've enjoyed your blog very much this year and look forward to sharing with you in the coming New Year!

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  8. These photos are absolutely amazing!

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  9. Must be fascinating to watch! Happy New Year!

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  10. Wonderful series with the eagles, KCS. Happy New Year!
    ~

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  11. What a wonderful series of photos - especially love the eagles. I hope you'll come link up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/12/little-painted-desert.html - would love to see you each week!
    Happy new year to you!

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  12. Wow!nice capture of the aircraft and the moon

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  13. I love the reflections and the moon photo is amazing! Great eagle shots too!

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  14. How symbolic for our New Year - Hope is alive and well.
    Thank you for the fascinating documentary and superb photography, Ken!

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  15. This was absolutely fascinating! I also love your moon shot c the plane flying across it! Isn't it amazing to think that this was the first full moon at Christmas since 1977 ? (If I remember correctly). Your photos are really amazing! Wishing you a beautiful 2016!

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  16. A great series of shots, but that moon shot really did it for me! Happy New Year!!

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  17. Great series of photos. Sounds like you'll be heading back soon for the sequel!

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  18. I love the moon shot with the airplane, great shot.
    Have a great New Year!

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  19. Wow! Amazing. The moon shot is out of this world. Happy Critter Day and Happy New Year (best to Jewel and Pride)!

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  20. Beautiful amazing shots! The moon is so cool with the airplane.
    Great captures of the Eagle family. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy New Year!

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  21. Hello, great post on the eagles. I hope the nesting is successful. The eagles seem to be doing great everywhere lately. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

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  22. The moon images are certainly dazzling...love the plane flying into the moon.

    And the eagle saga certainly gave me a lump in my throat. I do hope they will be parents once again. How thrilling.

    Thank you for adding your link to I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend. Happy New Year Ken

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  23. Love your photos, especially the Eagles!

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  24. Wow! You a great photog and a naturalist! I love this and am joining your blog TODAY!


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  25. So exciting! The first part of the story with the moon and the new pair was like a poem! The rest was like a wonderful biography, filled with hope! Let there be baby eagles!!!! Love having a chance to follow these awesome raptors through your blog!

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  26. Boa tarde, é uma selecção de imagens maravilhosas com qualidade, suas fotos são perfeitas.
    AG

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  27. Hi Kenneth. Now it is. Waiting game to see if there are chicks. How exciting. Great photos. I am nearly home now from my trip to Malawi and Zambia, just waiting at Heathrow for my flight this afternoon but thanks for leaving me all the comments when I was away.

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  28. A wonderful history of that the eagle activity and great images of the wren and butterfly.

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  29. How fantastic to be able to follow the story of the eagles like that.

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  30. I spent several days last summer trying to see if the three pairs of eagles breeding at Red Rock Lakes had babies. I wish they were as easy to observe as these eagles are. Thanks for the documentation of their lives. Can't wait to find out if they were successful.

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  31. Magnificent photos of the Eagles Ken. Fascinating to observe part of their life. I love Eagles as hey are just so majestic looking. The photo of the plane crossing in front of the moon is a fantastic shot. Well done & such great timing. How often I see things & wish I had my camera with me but don't..

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  32. Great photos, and story about the Bald Eagles. It's sad that his first mate vanished. You're very lucky to be able to see these beautiful birds in person!

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  33. Greatl shots of the bald eagle. I like that moon shot.

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  34. I really impress with the moon shot.
    Great job.

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