January 27, 2011 • 7:32 am

There’s an eagle in the nest on the the live Eaglecam. If you’re awake, go look!  I’ll keep the site visible on my spare laptop much of today and post here with the time (EST) when I see eagles.  Check back from time to time.

6:52 AM EST: EAGLES: two of them! What magnificent birds!  One of them is bringing sticks to the nest, which is obviously still being built.  Eggs and chicks to come!

7:54 AM EST: Both eagles still there; they’re building the nest.

9:00 AM EST: Eagles out hunting or looking for sticks.

(Oops!  Sorry; I accidentally trashed the comments along with the earlier post, since I wanted to keep the eagles at the top.  Do repost if you had a comment that’s germane.  I’ll keep this post and comments up.)

11:00 AM EST: The pair back in the nest, engaged in more twig-fiddling.  Many of us are starting to realize how hard it is to build a good nest!

You can find information about bald eagle nests here.  Among the tidbits:

Of all birds in the world, Bald Eagles hold the record for the biggest nest ever built. One nest in Florida was 6.1 meters deep, 2.9 meters wide, and weighed 2,722 kg (almost 3 tons). Could a Bald Eagle nest this size fit in your classroom?

How can a pair of Bald Eagles possibly build that huge nest and still have time to lay eggs, incubate them, and raise the babies in a single breeding season?

The answer is, they don’t! Throughout the season, and sometimes even during fall and winter, eagles keep adding sticks to the nest, and they reuse nests, continuing to build on to them, for many years. That huge record-breaking nest in Florida was the largest nest ever found, and it was very old. The average eagle nest is only 1.5-1.8 meters in diameter and 0.7-1.2 meters tall, and the first year a nest is built, it may be much smaller than that.

In most regions, a pair of eagles starts working on their nest from 1 to 3 months before the female lays the first egg. However, in the northern regions they can’t delay this long. For example, according to Birds of North America, “In Saskatchewan, adults build or repair nests in September prior to migration and build or repair nests in April upon return from wintering grounds.”

3:00 PM EST:  One eagle in the nest, just chillin’.

3:05 PM EST:  HEY!  No more eagles until you read your biology!

4:34 PM EST:    Il n’y a aucun aigle

5:00 PM EST:    One eagle recumbent. 

51 thoughts on “EAGLES!

  1. I know these are majestic animals and all…but the way the two of them were just working on the nest (back-to-back), they looked like a pair of those drinking bird toys….


  2. If they go to that much trouble to place a stick, just wait until it’s time to start hanging the pictures on the walls.

  3. The eagle recovery in Pennsylvania has been remarkable. Fifteen years ago there was one known nesting pair in the entire state. Last year, there were one hundred twelve. They’re also back around our summer place (along with lots of ospreys)in eastern Ontario. Some things do improve, with positive human action.

  4. Determining eagle gender:
    1) The female is about one-third larger than the male.
    2) The female’s beak is deeper than the male’s. Deeper means the distance from top to bottom as seen from the side.
    I am sure there are more differences but that was enough for me to figure out which is which…if they are both there. If only one is there then I can’t tell because the plumage is the same for both.

    1. Yep, and there are more details too. The person running the Q/A part of the camsite (blue panel to right) gets and answers this question frequently.

      1. The latest answer, as the question was just asked over there, is this:

        “t’s easier to see the differences when they are together on the nest. The female is larger. She has larger rear claw (hallux talon), bigger beak (the upper mandible is deeper and her mouth extends farther under the eye). Dad looks a bit darker than mom. Mom’s head has a more rounded looking where dad’s is flatter looking and when you get a close up view of dad it almost look like he’s wearing eyeliner. The males tail seems to look a bit more square than the females.”

        (Quoted directly from the person running the Q&A right now.)

  5. I am fortunate to have some bald eagles in my area. Not too long ago, I was treated to the awesome sight of one flying right over my house on its way to a nearby lake. The slow, easy grace of that huge creature in flight is breathtaking.

    1. So am I. I get one flying right past or above my living room windows now and then. I’ve been on walks along a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and suddenly the sun is blotted out for a second, I look up, and there is an eagle scouting along the bluff. Other times I hear calls nearby, and look around, and there they are. On bright days they get giddy and play with each other in the sky.

      A couple of times I’ve seen one roost right in my neighborhood. I go stand around and watch her for a good long while, just sitting there looking out over the houses and trees.

      There are at least four known permanent pairs in Seattle, and who knows how many in the suburbs. It’s a watery, fishy place, attractive to bald eagles.

      1. There’s a pair of crows that’ve taken up residence in my neighborhood. They’re a bit noisy, but they’re also gorgeous. Unless I have my hands full, I’ll rush outside to get a look when one of them announces its appearance.

        Sadly, I haven’t seen anything bigger or more exotic….



    2. Once, many years ago, I was at a mountain lake in BC, watching an osprey trying to gain altitude with a fair-sized trout in her talons. In a burst of motion, an eagle came from above, whacked the osprey on the head, the latter dropped the fish, that eagle made a 180 in the air, dove and picked off that trout just as nice as you please. The osprey shook her head, swooned around a bit, then set off hunting again. As nice a bit if piracy that you’ll ever see!

      1. Wow!

        I saw an osprey catch a fish (still in Seattle, this is, not out in the primeval wilderness somewhere) last year and I thought that was way cool – but I’ve never seen an act of piracy.

    1. Update: the one that was there first is rearranging sticks at the bottom of the nest. The second eagle doesn’t appear to be doing anything (behind the tree-trunk).

      1. I have yet to see even an empty nest – either ‘streaming’ problems or still dark! And I will be without a computer for a week in north Norfolk (England, not Virginia – otherwise I would go & look for real eagles!)…

  6. Back on eaglewatch!
    They’re not there though (obligatory pout)

    My comments got deleted from the previous thread, and that is probably just as well, since they were … exuberant 😉
    These birds are so beautiful. So, so beautiful.
    The kid’s in bed, I’m at the computer doing some more work – and can have eaglecam on whilst working for the next hour or so! Ahhhh – oh and a glass of redwine dazu!

    1. They remotely control the camera, there are a few people in the moderated discussion (to the right of the feed) that have been answering questions all day.

      1. Well, after a second I kind of guessed that there weren’t really anyone up there 😉
        It still made me dizzy when the camera suddenly took a swivel down, left, up, right.

      1. (That is, the male according to the person on the discussion board… Admits s/he could be wrong about that, though.)

  7. Leaving the eaglewatch for now. It’s late here GMT -1.
    For now: One bird in the nest warming the egg.
    Very alert and tranquil at the same time.
    Good night all.

    1. Sorry – I left out half a sentence, as I said it is late here: there is no egg, what I wanted to write was:
      One bird in the nest that looks as if it is warming …

  8. Can someone tell me why they would lay eggs in the middle of the winter? Is this normal – or is this just preparatory work from the eagles prior to egg laying …?

  9. They are quite temperate/northern adapted. In addition to fish they’ll take small animals/birds and even deign to eat carrion, esp. in winter.

    IIRC, last year, the last egg of this pair was laid on Feb. 6th. Given an incubation time of ~35 days, the eggs will hatch in March, probably springtime in VA. 😀

    The chicks take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to fledge, according to Birds of North America (one of the Cornell birding websites), so it’s best to get an early start with the nesting!

  10. I’m getting impatient. The eaglecam is still not up, and I’ve been at work for five hours already. Need.eaglecam.now.

  11. In case anyone’s still following this thread, there’s an eaglet (maybe two?) in a monitored nest on Jordan Lake in NC. I can’t believe they hatch so early–it’s cold here.
    See it here: http://www.basic.ncsu.edu/eaglecam/index.html
    They want viewers to document prey and feeding rates at the nest. Citizen Science is cool.

    I’m getting a horrible picture, but maybe it’s my computer or browser or my version of Quick Time.

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