As a child, I treasured the nature stories of Thornton W Burgess. His characters had distinctive personalities. Peter Rabbit, the impetuous and inquisitive hero, was pursued by crafty Reddy Fox and took the sage advice of Grandfather Frog. (Click to learn more about how I loved it when my Dad read me the stories: A Blue Jay Named Sammy)
Of course we adults should not engage in anthropomorphism, but I could not help myself as I reviewed the photos I took during a 25 minute observation of the local Bald Eagle nest. We do not have a nest camera, but based upon the behavior of the adults, our ground observers were quite certain that at least one eaglet had hatched during the previous week or so.
On the day prior to my visit a strong cold front had produced thunderstorms and high winds. There was the possibility that the nest may have suffered some damage, but it seemed to be intact.
There was a great deal going on, but I had not seen the beginning and I had to leave before the end of the story. It was cold by Florida standards (62 degrees F/16.6 degrees C), overcast and very windy-- certainly not weather for T-shirt and shorts.
My major concern was that I saw no eaglet and there was no evidence that one was being nurtured.
Eagles are incapable of changing their expressions and we do not understand their language. Their actions are cloaked in the mystery of consciousness which permeates the natural world.
Despite my inability to know the minds or the motivation of what I saw when I reviewed over 200 photos taken during that brief encounter, here is my fantasy. Call it a soap opera or a telenovela, but please do not accept it at face value. (Click on photos to display larger images)
I arrive at nest at 9:25 AM. The female (Jewel) is sitting up and moving her head down into the nest. At first I think she may be tending to an eaglet, but to my surprise she picks up a large stick and attempts to move it.
She looks up and suddenly the male (Pride) flies in from the left (east):
He grasps the same large branch and also tries to rearrange it as Jewel crouches down. Is she sheltering an eaglet?
Jewel stays down low in the nest, and Pride suddenly rises up to the branch on the right...
...then Jewel flies off:
Pride quickly covers the nest, but Jewel returns only about 2 minutes later, carrying a very large fresh pine bough. Pride is thinking, "Do we really need this? She is becoming a branch-aholic!"
She struggles to get the new branch all the way into the nest as Pride hunkers down and tries to stay out of her way:
Pride finally decides he had better fly up next to the nest to give her room as she continues to maneuver the branch:
Jewel struggles with the fresh branch:
She looks up at Pride as if asking for help:
So, Pride flies down and joins her (he is to the right). It looks as if they are ready to cooperate on the project...
...but they seem to disagree:
Then they ponder their next move:
Pride says "I was only trying to help:"
Jewel tells him, "Drop that stick NOW!" Pride closes his protective "third eyelid" (nictitating membrane):
Jewel finally tugs the very long stick into the nest while Pride stays low...
...but soon feels he must help:
Their efforts are poorly coordinated:
Pride whispers, "Why don't we just give up?"
Oh no, not another scolding! The neighbors (including me) hear the screaming:
"Aw, let's make up!"
"I don't think she is in a forgiving mood":
Pride hops up to roost and decides to watch from a distance:
= = = = = = =
Their confrontations were quite noisy. Their vocal interactions may well be friendly bonding behavior. However, nothing indicated that an eaglet was being tended or fed. Chilled to the bone, I had to leave after observing for only 25 minutes.
The eagles still had not incorporated the large fresh branch into the nest structure. We often see the eagles bring fresh foliage to the nest when there are eaglets present. Rather than removing all debris from the nest, they may "sweep it under the rug," I was left with uncertainty about the fate of the eaglet, but later that day they were feeding two still-unseen eaglets. Close watching is needed!
ADDENDUM: After I posted this morning we got our first views of two little eaglets in the nest. Here is the larger one:
This past week's changing skies--
Wolf Moon setting on January 21:
Cold front approaching January 23:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display