Eagles and more eagles

The Mississippi River is mostly free of ice now, and the Bald Eagles have spread out along the river banks to begin their nesting season.

Bald eagle on nest

I found this eagle sitting on its nest the other day, 100 yards from a gas station, overlooking a mostly frozen lake.  You can appreciate the size of the nest from the small amount of space the eagle take up sitting in it.  The other adult of the pair was sitting in the same tree but flew off when I got too close.

Like the Great Horned Owls, Bald Eagles seem to get a jump on rearing their nestlings by beginning their nesting season in February, despite potential torrential snow storms (like the one that hit the eastern US a few weeks ago) or bitter cold.

Bald Eagle nest in Hanover PA March 6, 2015

After the March blast of snow in the northeastern U.S., this eagle nest in Hanover PA was almost completely buried. You can barely see the top of the adult’s head. The bird subsequently shook off the snow covering her and the eggs, freeing up snow-free space in the nest cup.  Photo from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Facebook page.

A territorial pair of adult eagles might use the same nest each year, building it up with sticks until it reaches quite a mammoth size.  (see my post from January 31 this year). Both sexes incubate the clutch of 1-3 eggs (usually just two), which take about 35 days to hatch.  While one adult is on the nest, the other searches for food, or sits protectively in a nearby tree.

bald eagle

I think this is probably the resident adult at Colville Park in Redwing, MN. I have found an eagle in this same tree every spring for the past three years.

This attentive behavior continues throughout incubation and for the first 2-3 weeks of nestling life, until the nestlings are more able to regulate their own temperatures and the environmental insults have hopefully abated.  See an earlier post on “changing of the guard“.

bald-eagles-at-the-nest

Video cameras installed above nests are a great way to view what goes on inside an eagle nest.  The MN Department of Natural Resources live action eagle webcam shows scattered fur/feathers and some uneaten meat in the nest, so perhaps these adults are already feeding newly hatched eaglets.  The Pennsylavania Game Commission eagle live-webcam shows a sedentary eagle incubating.  The nest cup there is very clean, so these eggs may not have hatched yet.  You can check back every so often to view the progress of the nestlings.

6 thoughts on “Eagles and more eagles

  1. Weather notwithstanding, your blogs make this California boy better understand the why one might choose to reside in Minnesota. Thank you.
    John

  2. I watched the eagles several years ago from a public webcam set up near the nest. The funnest thing was once the eaglets were old enough, they would poop over the nest! Damned if every time I tuned in, I would see one of them back up to the edge of the nest and fire out of their butt!

    Your post brought a smile and chuckle to my heart today. Thank for the memory!

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