I went to Blackwater Refuge on Saturday to record some video from the Eagle Cam because it was clear that the eaglets were branching (out of sight) and possibly flying. Based on what I saw on Saturday, it looked like both Glider (our older chick) and Chaser were both seriously branching but not yet flying. However, Glider looked very close to flying and on Sunday we saw a meal at the nest where she didn’t make an appearance — which is rare — so it’s possible she’s flying by now.
In addition to seeing a one-chick meal, we’re also seeing images where only one eaglet is in the nest at night. As the chicks mature, they will start roosting in the tree like their parents, rather than lying in the nest. Roosting in the trees is how eagles prefer to spend their nights, and we even have some forests at the Refuge where eagles like to roost together in a group (those that aren’t defending a nest or watching over young).
If you watch the video below, you’ll see Chaser flying around the nest, and hopping from branch to branch (they seem to use most of the branches around the nest for perching). Then Glider arrives by hopping down from a branch on the left. You can see in the video how comfortable the eaglets are now in moving from the nest to the branches and back.
You might also notice there are a lot of large sticks in the nest. The eaglets like to play with them. They pounce on them, perch on them, and move them around. They’re definitely a source of entertainment when the chicks are there.
This will be the last video we post of our eaglets this season, but we will keep the Eagle Cam Gallery open, so we can keep an eye on the youngsters and make sure they’re making visits to the nest. Even after they begin flying, they’ll still make the occasional visit to the nest. Throughout the summer, the parents will watch over the eaglets and make sure they get enough food, but then in the fall, the eaglets will become independent, and the parents will begin focusing on a new breeding season at the nest. Once the parents begin preparing the nest for new eggs, they won’t welcome the 2014 eaglets around the nest.
In our next and final blog post, we’ll discuss where the eaglets might go once they become independent.