Posts Tagged With: Eagle Cam

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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Flapping Eaglets

Our two eaglets are now a little over five weeks old, and they seem to be doing very well. We captured a new video this past weekend, so you can see how their flapping skills are developing. In the beginning of the video our older eaglet stands up and practices its flapping and then the younger chick also gives it a go. Then at the end of the video, both eaglets enjoy a very democratic meal brought in by the parent.

When the eaglets are flapping, you can see where their feathers came in first — along their backs, wing edges, and tails. Closer to their bodies, they have mostly down. Also notice how big their talons look. Talons are among the first body parts to become adult size, and they need these big talons to help hold onto the nest when they’re flapping.

Bald Eagle TalonSometimes an eaglet will be flapping, and a big gust of wind will catch their wings and take them out of the nest prematurely. We’ve never had this happen on the Eagle Cam, but it can happen, so it’s important for the chicks to hold on tight, especially on a windy day.

Eagle talons and the corresponding leg muscles are among the most powerful in the bird world, and people who handle eagles (like rehabilitation specialists) have to be careful that they secure an eagle’s feet when handling them because the eagle can drive one of their talons through a person’s hand. The eagle has four talons – three in front and one in back. The talon in the back is called a hallux talon, and it is longer in females than in males. In fact measuring the hallux talon on an eagle is one way that a biologist can determine the gender of the bird. Hallux talons are up to about 2 inches long on large female eagles, and only about an inch and a quarter on small males.

A final note: We plan to start our annual Eaglet-Naming Contest around the end of the week, so start thinking up proper names for our handsome birds.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eagle cam, eaglet, feathers | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Feather Development

I just got back from vacation (spring break), so thanks to everyone for being patient while the blog and gallery updates were put on hold.

Our eaglets are doing very well and becoming more mobile each day. We currently have a plan to zoom the cam out around April 4 (that’s when our volunteer will be free), so we can see more of the nest and more of the eaglets as they begin to walk around.

Among the most noticeable changes in our eaglets are their very big yellow feet, which you can see in the photo posted here. Also notice their crops (on their chests), which hold extra food. These pouches get rather large as the eaglets feed, and the eaglets can make use of this food after the meal is over and their stomachs empty out.

Blackwater NWR Eaglets

Our older eaglet is getting a large set of dark brown pin feathers on its head, back, and wings. New feathers — or pin feathers — develop inside a shaft that is fed with blood (why they’re sometimes called blood feathers). The waxy shaft protects the feather until it’s fully grown, and once that happens, the eaglet will pull or rub the shaft off and the new feather will unfurl. Over the coming weeks, we’ll see both eaglets slowly developing their first set of feathers, and once that process is almost done, the eaglets will be ready to begin branching in preparation for their first flight.

Our photographer friend Woody Dawson follows an eagle nest along the Susquehanna River, and he sent us the following photo showing an immature bald eagle in the nest with its wing raised. This wonderful photo gives us a great look at the pin or blood feathers running along the underside of the eaglet’s wing. This photo also gives you a better sense of how big our eaglets’ wings and beaks are becoming.

Pin Feathers

Eagles have different types of feathers. The feathers we can see on the outside are contour feathers, and then underneath those are the soft downy feathers, which help keep the birds warm. In addition, there are different types of contour feathers — such as the primaries (strongest of the flight feathers) and the secondaries (feathers that help with soaring). If you’d like to learn more about bird feathers, be sure to visit the Cornell University feather page.

Currently I’m working on an update to the Eagle Cam Gallery, and we’ll also be opening the Osprey Cam Gallery very shortly. Thanks to those sending in their photos.

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

Categories: eagle cam, eaglet, feathers | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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