Video: eagles’ second egg

February 9, 2011 • 2:00 pm

As promised, I’m posting Sunday’s video of the bald eagle from EagleCam (in Norfolk, Virginia) laying her second egg.  The production of this egg was much more difficult than the first, and I’ve received expressions of sympathy from women who have borne children.

Note the female’s inspection of the egg immediately after it was laid.  “Did I do that?”  If all goes well, we should have bobbleheads in about a month.

And, from an alert reader, here’s a visual guide—with text (slightly edited by me) from two EagleCam monitors—about how to tell the male from the female:

It is easier to see differences when they are both side by side: however, the female is larger than male, including larger feet, bigger beak (upper mandible is deeper & mouth goes back farther under eye). On this particular pair: male has a sleeker look (flatter head when feathers aren’t ruffled), the female’s head appears rounder. When looking close, it almost looks like male has eyeliner on his eyes. I’m sure you see other differences that will help you decide who is who. The male this year has a small black feather on his head. From the back view I have noticed the male seems to cross his flight feathers more and the female’s are more to her sides. When on the nest, the female seems more relaxed and her wings tend to spread away from her body. The male is more alert and is picking at the nest more. His body seems to be more compact.

It’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 look where dad’s is flatter looking. The male, this year, has a dark feather on the top of his head and also his tail is more square looking while the female has a rounder look. The male’s beak is slightly darker than the female’s.

Here they are together, with the larger female on the right:

And this shows the position of the eye relative to the beak, a diagnostic trait (at least for this pair).  Note the “eyeliner” on the male.

h/t: Diane G

19 thoughts on “Video: eagles’ second egg

    1. Per my Raptors of Eastern North America book, by Wheeler, this is due to the

      Supraorbital ridge: [a] bony projection over the top of the eyes on most raptors that shields and shades the eyes; covered by a thin strip of bare skin. This feature gives raptors their “fierce” look.

      I suspect it’s absent in most other birds so that they can better watch out for raptors!

      1. My fiance and his brothers have suspiciously neaderthal-like facial features (don’t worry, they’re not offended that I’m saying this) and people do indeed describe them as “looking so angry” and being surprised when they speak like polite gentlemen. They are a pretty even mix of Nordic and Polish, and have VERY heavy, bony brows. In fact my fiance looks almost exactly like the Geico Caveman.

  1. I’m still totally in awe of these beautiful birds. Watch a bit of eaglecam every day.
    I think the easiest way to see who’s who is the shape of their heads. Male more flat, feathers less fluffy. And the the eyes, where the male has, what the moderators call eyeliner.
    (As described numerous times in the moderated discussion)

  2. Off the topic, but I have just finished “the Evolution of Bruno Littlemore”. A great book, at least 5 stars out of 5. It’s funny, tragic, thought provoking … I think it’s a must-read book.

  3. Exciting comments from the end of today’s running commentary @ Eagle Cam:

    PiedmontN8ive [moderator]: I believe she has laid a third egg aat around 5:58.. We will wait for official confirmation.

    MVK [moderator]: We think the female may have laid the third egg – however, we cannot be positive until we can see – probably in the morning.

  4. Hey yall, what is a good resource on the origin of sex, and sexual reproduction? I am not very savvy on evolution currently, but as far as I understood it, evolution functions primarily at the level of the individual organism not a the group level. So how does reproduction fit into that, and how do differing sexes fit into that? If there is a resource you could recommend what might it be?

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