No Chicks for the 2015 Season

No chicks

No chicks

As we mentioned on the Eagle Cam page, last night we witnessed an odd sequence of events where after the sole chick was fed, the adult on the nest sat on the unhatched egg and did not make an effort to get up and cover the eaglet from the cold. At this stage, the eaglet wasn’t able to regulate its own body temperature yet, so after about an hour of being exposed, the eaglet perished. The eaglet seemed to make an effort to get back under the adult, and at one point it appeared the chick was in the view of the adult, but the adult did not get up.

We know that other eagle cam nests have struggled with parents who did not live up to their responsibilities as well as they should, but we were surprised that the adult on the nest seemed to be more focused on covering the egg than the eaglet that was not in the nest cup. In years past, the parent has always seemed to be aware when the eaglets were not properly covered, and we’ve never had an issue with the chicks being left on their own to the elements. As some cam watchers observed, on February 24 we did see the adult leave the sole chick uncovered, but then after a few updates, the chick was back under the parent, so we didn’t think anything of it, although it did look odd to see a chick that young out of the nest cup while the adult was laying in the middle of the nest.

So what could have happened? Our first guess is that we might have a newbie parent (likely the male) and this might be his first brood. The other less likely option is that our male has been replaced with an intruder, who is not motivated to take care of this brood, although we think that’s not likely, otherwise the male wouldn’t have tried to incubate the remaining egg. And the reason we’re guessing it’s the male is because during the two events, it appeared that the smaller eagle was on the nest.

As for the remaining egg, it’s too late for it to hatch now, and it’s too late in the nesting season for a second clutch, so this will be the end of our season. At some point when the weather warms a bit, we’re going to zoom out the camera to a wider view, and we do plan to keep the camera on in order to observe the adults.

If over the coming weeks, we collect any more information about what happened at the nest, we’ll pass it along. We want to thank those who have followed the nest this year — even when the camera was having technical difficulties — and sent in photos for our gallery.

Our ospreys will be returning in a few weeks, so we look forward to that event and the arrival of spring after a long, cold winter.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eagle cam, eaglet, eggs | Leave a comment

A One-Chick Nest

One chick in the 2015 nest

One chick in the 2015 nest

Just when we think we know what will happen on our Eagle Cam nest, we get a surprise. During the 11 years that we’ve been broadcasting from this nest, we’ve always had at least two eaglets in residence in a given season, but this year it looks like we’ll have just one.

Because we’re having issues with the camera in the tree (and we can’t fix it while the chick is small and needs protection from its parent), we have to make an educated guess as to when the hatching happened. Based on our observations and what we were hearing from cam watchers, as well as volunteers at the Refuge, here is our scorecard.

  • 1st egg laid: 1/7
    Hatch: 2/15
  • 2nd egg laid: 1/10
    Hatch: 2/17 2/19 (died around 2/23)
  • 3rd egg laid: 1/13
    No hatch

Our third egg is very late and we don’t expect it to hatch. Even if it did, the chick would be so far behind the older chick, that the younger chick would probably have a hard time getting much during meal time, so it’s probably best that it not hatch now.

As for the second chick, he seemed to be doing well, and there was plenty of food, so we don’t know if the chick had health issues or maybe it was an issue with the cold, but he didn’t last long after hatching.

Rabbit in eagle nest

Rabbit in eagle nest

The remaining chick seems very active and is already visibly growing, and there has been plenty of food in the nest to feed it, despite the bad weather. We’ve seen multiple fish in the nest at one time, in addition to a duck or two, and a rabbit, which you can see in this photo.

So the good news is we have a chick to watch grow up and eventually fledge. And assuming our chick is healthy, he should have a good life in the nest, since the parents are excellent providers.

We’ll update the Gallery soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to see some of the photos that were shared from the nest over the last week, be sure to check out our Facebook page. And thanks to all those who sent in images while we were trying to determine if the hatching was really happening.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eaglet, eggs, hatching | Leave a comment

Preparing for Hatching

Three Eggs Up Close

Three Eggs Up Close

Well, we think we have some good news on the camera front. Our cam technician and ranger spent a good bit of time Saturday inspecting and replacing the last possible pieces that they could think of that might be malfunctioning and causing the darkness on the cam, and it looks like they were able to fix it. Keep your fingers crossed that this was the solution, and that it means there is nothing wrong with the camera at the nest.

As you likely noticed, we’ve also zoomed in our pan-tilt-zoom camera so that we have a front-row seat for the hatching, which could start sometime from Wednesday through Saturday. If you’re new to this process, the way it will work is that the chick will begin moving and eventually vocalizing from within the egg before it hatches. The parent will know before we do that something is happening, and we’ll be looking for signs of the parent getting up a lot and looking at the eggs. Another sign that hatching is starting is if the male eagle suddenly brings a meal and leaves it on the nest.

Eventually the eaglet will pip a small hole in the egg (using its egg tooth, which will fall off after hatching) and then slowly turn inside the egg and peck until it has created a crack that is big enough that the eaglet can push its way out of the shell. This is a very slow process (maybe 24 hours or more), since the eaglet will take a lot of breaks to rest.

Once the eaglet has hatched, it will be wet and tired, but it will quickly dry off and maybe even try to stand up for a meal, although the eaglet doesn’t have to eat right away — the chick absorbs what remains of the yolk before hatching and doesn’t need to be fed immediately.

The first eaglet out has a big advantage because bald eagles are the fastest growing birds in North America, and the first chick to hatch will be big enough to establish itself as the dominant chick and will have the advantage of being at the top of the pecking order. The sooner that the second and third eaglets can hatch after the first, the better for those chicks.

In the last two seasons, our female has not had good luck with her third egg, with one hatching late and the chick later dying, and then one never hatching at all. So we’re hoping that this year the trend is different and that the third egg will produce a healthy chick.

Before we finish this entry, we wanted to share a short video showing some winter scenes from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. If you haven’t been able to visit this winter or if you wonder what the eagles are seeing when they fly around the Refuge, this will give you a taste. The final shot of the eagle on the Osprey Cam nest is possibly one of the parents from our Eagle Cam.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: blackwater nwr, eagle cam, eggs, hatching | Leave a comment

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