The weather was gloomy and overcast when I stopped by to check on the eagles this weekend. It was a little chilly too. Without the sun the low 40s can really make you shiver! This project, and others like it, have given me a new appreciation for the difficulties involved in weather forecasting. With only a limited time to be on site each week, I try to angle for warm sunny days. It doesn’t always work out.
Despite the weather the eagles were soldiering on without complaint. When I arrived I found a solitary adult eagle stoically sitting on the nest. Last week I had seen evidence that the eggs might have hatched, but I did not get a look at the tiny newborn eaglets. This week I was hoping I would get a chance to actually see one of the juveniles, and I think maybe I did.
A short time after I arrived the brooding adult stood and began moving about the nest. She stepped up on the rim of the nest and began interacting with something down in the dish. I just started taking as many photographs as I could manage. I knew that it would require a little bit of luck to record an image of an eaglet under these poor viewing conditions.
At home I went through a hundred or more pictures before I found one that appeared to have an eaglet in it. The picture below is not the most compelling evidence, but I am convinced! The eaglet(s) will be much larger by the time I visit nest weekend, hopefully we will finally get our first good look at the new additions at that time!
The on duty eagle stayed off the nest much longer that I was comfortable with. I kept thinking about how cold it was and hoping the eaglets were ok. The adult eagle had other ideas, and she took her time settling back down on her brood. First she fluffed herself up real big, and then she fiddled with and rearranged some sticks on the nest.
She finally settled back down just in time for her partner to show up with a big tasty fish. He landed on the tower superstructure for just a second before dropping into the nest. The two adult eagles greeted each other vocally, and then the off duty bird left unceremoniously. She flew away into the nearby woods, pausing momentarily on the branch of an old dead tree before moving on to parts unknown.
Back at the nest the behavior of the relieving eagle was a bit puzzling. I was excited by his arrival because I expected that it meant I was going to get to see an eaglet feeding. Instead the adult male just stood on the rim for an extended period of time like he was not quite sure what he should do next.
Several minutes passed like this before the male moved again, and when he did it was not to feed the eaglets as I had hoped. Instead he sat down and began brooding the young birds, leaving the fish where it lay on the rim of the nest. I guess they were saving it for later!