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

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