Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bald Eagle nest renovation, fact and fantasy

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.

Bald Eagle 5966-20190125

She looks up and suddenly the male (Pride) flies in from the left (east):

Bald Eagle 5996-20190125

Bald Eagle 5997-20190125

He grasps the same large branch and also tries to rearrange it as Jewel crouches down. Is she sheltering an eaglet?

Bald Eagle 6012-20190125

Jewel stays down low in the nest, and Pride suddenly rises up to the branch on the right...

Bald Eagle 6027-20190125

...then Jewel flies off:

Bald Eagle 6052-20190125

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!"

Bald Eagle 6057-20190125

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:

Bald Eagle 6059-20190125

Pride finally decides he had better fly up next to the nest to give her room as she continues to maneuver the branch:

Bald Eagle 6064-20190125

Jewel struggles with the fresh branch:

Bald Eagle 6105-20190125

She looks up at Pride as if asking for help:

Bald Eagle 6122-20190125

So, Pride flies down and joins her (he is to the right). It looks as if they are ready to cooperate on the project...

Bald Eagle 6132-20190125

Bald Eagle 6134-20190125

...but they seem to disagree:

Bald Eagle 6135-20190125

Then they ponder their next move:

Bald Eagle 6142-20190125

Pride says "I was only trying to help:"

Bald Eagle 6144-20190125

Jewel tells him, "Drop that stick NOW!" Pride closes his protective "third eyelid" (nictitating membrane):

Bald Eagle 6147-20190125

Jewel finally tugs the very long stick into the nest while Pride stays low...

Bald Eagle 6170-20190125

...but soon feels he must help:

Bald Eagle 6172-20190125

Their efforts are poorly coordinated:

Bald Eagle 6185-20190125

Bald Eagle 6197-20190125

Pride whispers, "Why don't we just give up?"

Bald Eagle 6203-20190125

Oh no, not another scolding! The neighbors (including me) hear the screaming:

Bald Eagle 6209-20190125

"Aw, let's make up!"

Bald Eagle 6216-20190125

"I don't think she is in a forgiving mood":

Bald Eagle 6220-20190125

Pride hops up to roost and decides to watch from a distance:

Bald Eagle 6232-20190125

Bald Eagle 6238-20190125

Bald Eagle 6246-20190125

= = =  = =  = =

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:

Bald Eagle eaglet 1046AM-2-20190131

This past week's changing skies--
Wolf Moon setting on January 21:

Wolf Moon setting 02-20190121

Cold front approaching January 23:

 Wolf Moon over lake 01-20190123

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


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



  1. I liked Thornton W. Burgess. Mom would read them to us many evenings. Recently they have been reprinted and sold in box sets.

  2. Sounds like typical marriage squabbles! Very entertaining, and wonderful photos.

  3. I love your narrative - quite entertaining and certainly goes with the photos.

  4. I love all the Eagle images with your wonderful narrative and the Eaglet is so cute Kenneth. Have a wonderful weekend

  5. Hello, the eagles are squabbling like an old married couple. Love the series of photos and captions. The eaglet is adorable. Great post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post today. Happy Saturday and have a great weekend. PS, thanks for the comment on my blog.

  6. This is rather fun! My hubby often makes up animal stories like this.
    The stick reminds me of my grandkids.They always pick up sticks in the forest, and nearly whack us, accidentally, all the time!

    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  7. Wonderful story and amazing photos! Glad you finally spotted the eaglets!

  8. Wow, amazing photos. I would love to be so close to eagles

  9. Oh how I LOVE that you captured that eaglet!! Magnificent series & fantastic narrative. Hope you don't mind...Ixm going to add your link. (Some have had difficulties adding their URL.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. I've been watching some eagle nest cams online. One that I was enjoying lost two eggs within days of laying them. Stuff like that is sad to watch. Nature is sometimes cruel, and always fascinating.
    Thanks for sharing at

  11. Wow, great series of photos of the Bald Eagles. You are so lucky to have them in your area to photograph. (There are "allegedly" a few pairs here in Connecticut, but I'd have to trek kind of far a field to find them. ;-) And sometimes I think mankind is a little too conceited for mankind's own good: scientists seem to assume only "we" have emotions, and animals don't, or only have a subset of ours. In mankind's conceit, mankind overlooks the fact that we are also merely "survival of the fittest" if we refuse to acknowledge animals have emotions too. I remember seeing one of those Nature Programs, where the Cheetah mother finally cut her ties with her offspring, because they were old enough to be on their own: the two Cheetah "cubs" (aged 1 or 2 years old?) cried for the mother. It was heartbreaking to watch. I think all of us species have far more in common than mankind scientists are willing to admit. Just my two cents.

  12. Great story! I gasped when I saw their baby. How awesome!

  13. So glad their is evidence of two eaglets. Whew! And I was totally absorbed by your story, imagined perhaps but thoroughly supported by the pictures!


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