Eagle Parent Behaviors

2014 Eagle Cam eggsWe’re about three weeks away from the start of hatching, and so far everything is going well. Our parents have had to deal with a couple snow storms, but they’ve kept the eggs warm, and now it looks like they’ll be treated to a mild weekend.

We’ve had fun watching our eagle parents perform their daily chores. About once an hour, the incubating parent stands up and rolls the eggs, which ensures that the eggs are heated evenly and that the embryos don’t become stuck to the inside of the shell. However, bald eagles have very sharp talons — sharp enough to puncture a human hand — and it they aren’t careful, they can puncture one of the eggs while turning it. So to ensure this doesn’t happen, the parent balls up their talon before rolling the egg, which you can see in the gallery below (click on the thumbnail).

Another interesting behavior is the parent switch, which you can see in the gallery above. Over the years we’ve noticed that sometimes the father eagle doesn’t get up as fast as the mother would like when she’s ready to switch. Sometimes she will stand over him, or put grass on his back, and eventually he seems to get the message and stands up so she can take over. We saw an example of that behavior this week. If you look closely in the photos, you can also see the size difference as the mother looks noticeably larger.

Recently on our Facebook page we had a quick discussion about the size of the nest. Someone had asked how much eagle nests weigh, and we relayed that the well known Decorah nest in Iowa was estimated to be about five feet high, six feet wide and weighed about 1300 pounds. Our Eagle Cam nest is about the same height and width as the Decorah nest, although we’re not sure how much it weighs. Some eagle nests have been reported to weigh over 2000 pounds, although those nests were built up over many years.

Bald eagle egg sizeAnother common question relates to the size of the eggs. The view from our Eagle Cam nest can be a bit deceiving in that the eggs look very small, but this photo from the Center for Conservation Biology eagle blog gives a better view of the actual size.

We also saw something else in the CCB blog post that was interesting — they mentioned that “when nest material like pine straw gets wet it can stain the egg shells.” In the photo at the top of this post, which was taken yesterday, we noticed one of the eggs looked a little darker, and it’s possible it was stained from nesting material that got wet from the recent snow storms.

We hope you’re enjoying our Eagle Cam and we hope you’ll stay tuned for the hatching that should start around February 17.

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

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