incubation

State of the Camera

Our parents are doing well, and fortunately all has been quiet at the nest. We captured a short video of one of our dedicated parents (I think it’s the male) in the rain not long ago, keeping the eggs warm and relatively dry. When the male eagle stands up and moves to the edge of the nest in the video, I think he’s relieving himself over the side before retaking his position on the eggs. The action on the cam right now is kind of slow, but it’s the kind of action we like to see at this time of year — uneventful incubation.

Update on the Camera

As our cam watchers know, our cam image went bad a couple days ago and now has temporarily improved, although we’re still getting a dark image on occasion. We’ve been online with our Eagle Cam for 11 years now, and we’ve never had an issue with the camera equipment at the nest itself during that time. We have had the eagles hit the camera and nudge it out of position when flying in and out of the nest (an issue we eliminated when we migrated to a pan-tilt-zoom camera), but we’ve never had cabling or camera problems around the nest that we couldn’t access.

When the dark image problem first appeared a few weeks ago, we did some maintenance on the ground and it seemed to fix the issue, but then it came back a few days ago with the colder weather. Over the past few days, we tried swapping out and improving most of the connections on the ground, but the image did not improve. It did improve, however, when the weather warmed a bit. This makes us a little concerned that something might be wrong with a cable near the nest — which of course we can’t visit while the eggs are there or even when the chicks are small and need their parents nearby. It’s possible a squirrel has chewed on the cable or a crack has developed, but right now about the best we can do is hope the clear image stays with us. If it is affected by weather, then we’re hoping that at hatching time, the weather is like it is now, which seems to allow for a good image most of the time.

While we’re talking about our cam operation, it seems like a good time to mention that this weekend we had a visit from WildEarth.tv. We’ve been in talks with them about possibly moving our operation to streaming video. As some of our long-time fans know, the reason we haven’t moved to streaming video before this is because affordable broadband was not available out at the Refuge (which is in a very rural location), and so we didn’t have the technology available to get streaming video up to the Internet. That situation has improved, and a partnership with WildEarth.tv would give us some added benefits that might make streaming video possible. We’re still in the early stages of exploring this partnership, but the meeting this weekend went well, and I’m feeling hopeful that this might happen and be in place for next eagle season. If it did happen, it would mean we would have a small banner ad to help pay for the broadband, but we would have high quality live video and sound online, and also an online archive of videos that cam watchers could view if they missed any action on the nest. We’re also exploring an additional ad-free feed for schools to use, since we know we have several classrooms that tune in to watch the eagles during the season.

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

Categories: blackwater nwr, eagle cam, eggs, incubation | Leave a comment

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