Monthly Archives: May 2013

Mantling Eaglet

Blackwater eaglet mantlingWe wanted to provide an update on our eaglets — Talon and Soar. Talon seems to be flying. We’ve seen him disappear and reappear quickly numerous times, and he’s been absent for long periods, sometimes even when food is brought to the nest. Soar has been branching, but he doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to fly — even at 12 weeks old.

We did catch a photo today of Soar mantling a meal that was brought to the nest by a parent, and it looked like Soar was super hungry. Mantling is a raptor behavior where a bird protects its food by spreading its wings and body over the meal to prevent another bird from getting it. It’s possible the parents are bringing fewer meals to the nest to encourage Soar to fly, and at some point it will work and get Soar to make the big leap.

We also wanted to mention that we haven’t panned the camera up because Soar is still in the nest, but once both eaglets are flying, we’ll pan the camera up so our cam watchers can see more of the nest branches. Over time the eaglets will be spending less time in the nest itself and more time flying or sitting on the branches.

We have some other interesting eaglet action going on at Blackwater Refuge right now. On our Facebook page recently, someone posted a great photo from the eagle nest at the end of our Wildlife Drive, where we discovered we now have three eaglets — not two, as originally thought. I encourage you to check out our Facebook page to see some of the great photos folks are sharing from around the Refuge. You don’t need a Facebook account to see our page or view the photos, and it’s a great way to see the latest wildlife action at the Refuge.

Thanks to all those who have been sending in their photos for the Eagle Cam Gallery. We appreciate them, since we’re not always watching at just the right time to catch interesting action — like Soar mantling.

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

Categories: branching, eagle cam, flying | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Strong Wings

First, we want to congratulate Angel Walker on being the winner of our 2013 Eaglet-Naming Contest with her winning entries of Talon (our older bird) and Soar (our younger bird). We received many wonderful names in our contest this year, so thanks to everyone who took the time to send in their entries.

Blackwater NWR Eaglets FeedingOur chicks are doing very well, as you’ll see in our videos below. They’re nine weeks old, and they could begin branching any day now. In fact one chick — I think it’s Talon — likes to perch on the left edge of the nest, getting so close it makes me a little nervous, but it’s just one more step in their move toward flight and independence.

Speaking of independence, on Thursday I saw a few images where the eaglets were feeding themselves (see image on the right). There was a fish in the nest, and it looked like the chicks decided to try eating on their own rather than waiting for a parent to come and feed them. This is all part of their gradual development into adult raptors and it’s good to see.

In our first video below, we have some wonderful footage of the two eaglets flapping and hopping around the nest. You can see from the video that their wings are getting very strong and you can imagine that it won’t be long before those wings will take them right out of the nest.

If you look closely in the video, you can see that one bird still has some pin feathers on its tail — that is likely Soar, our younger bird. We definitely expect Talon to go first when it comes time for branching and flying, and Soar will likely be a bit behind due to age. There’s also some funny shots at the end of the video showing the eaglets getting a little irritated with each other. Whenever one of them begins flapping, it’s hard not to hit the other eaglet in the head with their big wings! Even with only two chicks, the nest gets a little crowded.

Folks have asked about the gender of our chicks. Soar might still be growing, so it’s hard to tell, but there are times when I do think that the eaglets look about the same size — meaning they might be the same gender. So next we need to compare them with one of the adults. The mother is larger than the father, so do they look to be her size or his size? That would tell us their gender.

In the second clip below we see a funny family scene at the nest. The father flies in with a fish, and being the great father that he’s been this season, he begins feeding the youngsters himself. But then mom arrives (probably because she saw dad brought a meal) and she almost immediately walks over and takes the fish away from him. She’s the bigger bird and she sets the rules, so dad gives up the fish and flies off (probably to find another meal), and mom goes about feeding herself and the chicks.

It’s nice to see the parents still hanging out together and working together to take care of the chicks. I was also impressed with how well behaved the chicks were in this video. We’ve seen some nests where the parents are literally mobbed when they arrive with food — sometimes with one of the eaglets grabbing the food away from the parent and mantling over it as if to say “Mine, Mine, Mine!” But in this video, the eaglets calmly wait their turn and don’t engage in any mobbing, possibly because they’ve been fed well and don’t feel the need to be greedy.

We want to thank everyone who has sent in photos from the Eagle Cam. We’ll try to post an update to the Eagle Cam Gallery in the next few days. And thanks again to all those who entered our contest.

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

Categories: branching, eagle cam, eaglet | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: