Monthly Archives: February 2016

Loss of the Two Eggs

Adult reacting to possible intruder on Feb. 9

Adult reacting to possible intruder on Feb. 9

As we discussed on the Eagle Cam page, on the evening of February 9, images from the cam seemed to show the female on the nest being agitated by something near the nest (in the air). You can see the video of images on YouTube (video 1 and video 2). This action went on for a while, and then as the evening progressed, both parents failed to show up at the nest to continue incubation. For much of the night and next morning — in freezing temperatures and light snow — the eggs were uncovered, so we have no doubt they are no longer viable. On Wednesday, a parent occasionally came to sit on the eggs, but we think they were doing it more out of habit. We know in time they’ll realize the eggs aren’t going to hatch.

Eagle couple the night before

Eagle couple the night before

Sometimes eagle pairs do lay second clutches, but it’s impossible to know if that will happen here, since we don’t know if the drama that caused the abandonment has played out or if it’s still ongoing. We have seen a pair of eagles on the Osprey Cam since the abandonment, and it could be our couple, since at this time of year you don’t often see couples together, since one of any pair should be at the nest, sitting on eggs.

This is a sad occasion, but if something like this was going to happen, we guess it’s better it happened before we had actual chicks in the nest. Watching this unfold, we remembered something our friend Craig Koppie — the raptor biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — said about how it’s a positive thing that eagle populations are growing around the country, but the downside is that it brings more competition from eagles that are looking for mates and prime nesting locations.

For the time being, we’ll keep watching the nest to see what happens. It’s possible the eggs will get buried or a predator will come for them when the eagles are away. We’ll also keep the gallery open until we’re sure the season is over.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eagle cam, eggs | 2 Comments

Welcome to the 2016 Eagle Cam Season

Two-egg clutch for 2016 season

Two-egg clutch for 2016 season

We want to welcome everyone to a new season on the Blackwater NWR Eagle Cam. For those who are new to the cam, we’ve been following this nest since the 2004-2005 season. We don’t band eagles at Blackwater NWR, so we don’t know if this is the same couple each year, but adult eagles can live long lives, are very loyal to each other, and are also loyal to their nests, so we’re sure that for quite a few years, we’ve likely seen the same birds.

Cam watchers have also asked if this is the same pair that is seen on the Blackwater NWR Osprey Cam. We do know that sometimes our Eagle Cam pair visits the osprey platform (we’ve seen them take food from one nest to the other), but we have a lot of eagles at Blackwater — one of the largest populations in the lower 48 states — so sometimes the eagles on the osprey platform might be different birds.

We have a two-egg clutch for this year. Bald eagles normally lay two or three eggs, so this is a normal amount. Below is our scorecard:

  • 1st egg
    Laid: 1/24
    Possible hatch: Around 2/28
  • 2nd egg
    Laid: 1/29
    Possible hatch: Around 3/4

There was a longer delay between the two eggs than we normally see, and we’re not sure why that is. Also, the parents appeared to delay the incubation of the first egg, which is a technique for ensuring the eggs hatch closer together (this might impact the potential hatch dates). We did see the parents off both eggs the other night, and we were a little worried even though it was mild. A cam watcher helpfully pointed out an interesting article from Duke Farms about eagle eggs left in the cold, so you might want to check it out.

The other reason we’re a little more nervous this season is because last season did not end well. Normally our eagles on the cam are rock-solid parents. We’re accustomed to seeing big drama from the Osprey Cam birds — everything from newbie parents abandoning the eggs during a long rain storm, to parents leaving the eggs unprotected around fish crows, to a male osprey abandoning the family, possibly to take up with another female. But over the years, our eagle adults have been incredibly efficient, brave, and loyal in their parenting, even protecting the eggs with a foot of snow on the nest. However, last year we saw something odd. The male adult left a new chick outside the nest cup and it froze to death. The chick was right beside him, but he didn’t seem to respond to the chick’s attempt to get back under him, and then it was too late. We’ve never seen anything like it with our eagles. He might have been a new parent with little experience or he might have been an intruder who had driven away the resident male off camera and wanted to get rid of the chicks that weren’t his — we’ll never know. But it’s left us a little nervous regarding how our parents will do this year.

So this season will be a bit different in that we’re not as confident as we normally are about our parents being the unflappable pair that gets the chicks through anything nature can throw at them. But then again, that’s why we watch wildlife cams. We never know what to expect, and that is what makes it exciting.

Technical Note

Before we wrap up, we did want to say something about our technical issues. As our loyal cam watchers will remember we had hoped to have streaming video for this cam season. There has been a delay in getting broadband service out to the rural area where Blackwater is located. We have heard that the new Harriet Tubman State Park Visitor Center (across from Blackwater NWR) is getting broadband, so we’re hopeful that this means it will soon be available to us at the Refuge. We’re keeping an eye on the situation and we’ll do our best to upgrade our technology when we are able.

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

Categories: blackwater nwr, eagle cam, eggs | 1 Comment

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