A small aircraft flies across its face:
The Moon sets over the wetlands the next morning:
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.
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:
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:
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):
Here is Glory, alone on the nest after Honor took her first flight:
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:
Despite the absence of his mate, over the next six weeks Pride kept working on the nest alone:
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."
Pride, now at least 12-13 years old, interacted with Jewel:
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:
The pair appeared to copulate successfully on January 28, 2015, and again a few days later:
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:
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:
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:
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:
She continued calling, and Pride copulated with her on the nest:
Pride returned to his perch:
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:
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:
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:
A Carolina Wren has a nest in the brush under the eagle nest:
The wren rests on the fence in front of the nest...
...while a male Julia heliconian feasts on Lantana nectar along the fence line:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa).
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
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display