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 BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


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


Thursday, December 24, 2015

On the boardwalk at Chapel Trail

We normally visit Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in nearby Pembroke Pines in order to observe wildlife from its 1/4 mile boardwalk. I started thinking about what we might have seen ON rather than FROM this structure, so I searched my photo archives and turned up quite a few creatures!

The clouds of a buttermilk sky reflect on the wetlands:

Chapel Trail2 HDR 20151024

Chapel Trail HDR 20151017

The boardwalk:

Chapel Trail boardwalk 20151017

A candid shot of Mary Lou trying to find a bittern:

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve Boardwalk

The railing of the boardwalk can be very interesting place to meet a few birds... this Red-shouldered Hawk..

Red-shouldered Hawk 20130520

...which promptly flies off:

Red-shouldered Hawk in flight 2-20130520

A Cooper's Hawk:

Cooper's Hawk 20121207

A pair of Mourning Doves:

Mourning Doves 20130322

A Limpkin:

Limpkin 3-20110323

A couple of combative Northern Mockingbirds:

Mockingbird standoff 2-20101230

A Tricolored Heron:

Tricolored Heron adult 5-20141118

A Snowy Egret, resplendent in "Golden Slippers:"

Snowy Egret 20090118

An immature Little Blue Heron:

Little Blue Heron 03-20151010

Another immature Little Blue Heron with an itch:

 Little Blue Heron immature 20141118

 Not having hands to scratch it is no problem with a neck like this:

 Little Blue Heron immature neck 20141118

An adult Little Blue Heron:

Little Blue Heron 20111016

An immature Green Heron:

Green Heron 2-20110925

The yellow-eyed local subspecies of Eastern Towhee:

Eastern Towhee 20100402

A Palm Warbler:

Palm Warbler western 20111016

An Eastern Phoebe, watching as a male Julia heliconian flies by (not a very tasty morsel):

Eastern Phoebe meets male Julia 20131031

A White-winged Dove:

White-winged Dove 20140824

A brace of wizened Black Vultures:

Black Vultures 20110411

At the canoe dock, an Anhinga drying its wings:

Anhinga 20140824

Aside from the birds, we saw a native Green Anole. Its population is decreasing because of competition from introduced reptiles, such as...

Green Anole 20140718

...this Brown Basilisk, on the floor of the boardwalk, descendant of an escaped or unwanted exotic pet:

Brown Basilisk 20130722

Of course, we saw many beautiful butterflies, but only this Ruddy Daggerwing rested on the boardwalk rail:

Ruddy Daggerwing - Marpesia petreus 20120923

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


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