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March 2009
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Observations By Volunteer Nest Watchers
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Bald Eagle Nest
Posted by: Ken @ 5:48 pm

Sunrise this morning from our back patio, before the cold front stirred up the breezes:

Before the Front Moved In-20090301

These all are older photos, as I lost all those I took today:

Eagle With Chick 20090219

March 1, 2009: After nursing a bad cold since last week, I emerged from my cocoon and finally joined the eagle nest watchers for a while today. There has an increase in activity on the eagle Nest Watch Forum . These wonderful people’s notes kept me well informed while I was indisposed. You can also keep up to date, so be sure to visit the Forum. Some examples follow:

Jill reported:“I was there from 7 to 10, but left briefly to pick up a coffee at the Hess station down the road.  I saw 2 feedings (I may have missed one) by a single parent.  One of the eaglets was a bit greedy, but both got what appeared to be plenty.  Some of the other observers and I think one of the meals was that of a Cattle Egret as there were lots of white feathers blowing out of the nest.  Both of the eaglets did some wing flapping exercises which was fun to watch.  This morning and yesterday morning, one of the parents was frequently perched on the top of a leafless tree about 50 yards?- (I’m not good at judging distances) away from the nest.  This made for some good photo opportunities.Unfortunately, there were some children running around and making noise  If it had gotten any worse, I would have said something to the parents.”

Trisha posted this observation:“While watching the nest this morning with my binoculars, I observed a moment that I assume involved the eaglet considered to be the larger of the 2. The eaglet was very tall on the left side of the nest opening and closing its wings. All of a sudden it rapidly moved to the right side of the nest while flapping. Since its “feet” (there must be a better eagle term) were below the level of the rim I don’t know whether it was “running” or actually experiencing a lift from the strong wind and the flapping wings. It really startled me as it appeared as if it was going to “fly” right out of the nest! Fortunately, the “adventure” ended on the right nest rim and the eaglet returned to a more center location. I imagine this precarious situation will occur many times before they are actually airborne.”

I watched the eagles between 1:00 PM and 2:30 PM. I saw the same behavior as noted by Trisha– the larger eaglet moved rapidly from left to right. It did this a couple of times. First, I thought it was fighting with the younger chick, but then a little head popped up at the far left side of the nest. One parent was roosting on the melaleucas to the west when I got there. There were about 15 people at that end, and another 20 or so at the nest site. All were enthusiastic and well-behaved. No one walked inside the pylons, and no one brought pets. The adult then flew away to the south, and only about 5 or 10 minutes later (about 1:30 PM) an adult came in with prey. It looked like a long thin creature– I thought too fat for a snake, and too skinny and long to be a tilapia. Some said it was a snake and others thought maybe an iguana. It was probably too long to be one of the sirens that the herons like to catch. The adult seemed to just drop it into the nest, and the chicks were not visible as (if) they fed. then a little later it reached down into the nest.. The smaller chick was still on the left side, behind the adult. The adult flew off after about 20 minutes. Both chicks then popped up and the larger one did a lot of wing flapping. Then the smaller flapped for a while while the big one just watched it. It was hot and very windy. To boot, Picasa somehow ate up all the nice photos I took of both youngsters, including the wing flapping and adult bringing in the food.  

Eagle Wings 20090118

Saturday, February 28: I’ve been “confined to quarters” with a bad cold the past few days. That was why I had time to compile the list of Bald Eagle FAQ’s in my previous post. In her note to the Forum , Trisha said she found one adult in its usual spot on the dead melaleuca trees to the west of the nest. “Both babies were active on the nest and at times both standing up tall towards the rim. They seemed to have a fish carcass that they were picking up. They definitely had the appearance of looking for food from Mom or Dad!”

Kelly said she was “relieved to find that the crowds of people seem to be diminishing at the nest site.  When I was there Friday evening, there were approximately 10 people, much less than I have seen earlier at this time of day.  Unfortunately there are still insensitive and stubborn watchers who insist on placing their tripods well inside the coned area.  One became quite hostile when I asked him to please move back, but thankfully left the site about 5 minutes later.  Today, Saturday, there continues to be less watchers in front of the nest. That is good news!

“Having people with cameras can be a plus because the trespassers have to worry that someone will take their picture.  The minus as was obvious in one of my other emails is that some photographers will do anything to get in position for an ideal photo.”

Kelly makes a good point. The more eyes on the eagles, the safer it can be for them. However, we are not the “Cops.” We can point out any dangerous situations (particularly failure to control children who may run out on the busy roadway, and remind folks not to park on the road surface). Some visitors really may not know that the pylons are there to restrict pedestrians as well as vehicles. It is shameful that photographers continue to give such a bad example by actually entering the posted “Eagle Forest.” Rather than confront a possibly unruly lawbreaker, take down (or photograph) the license plate of the vehicle and the offender, and simply call the non-emergency number for the Pembroke Pines Police Department at (954) 431-2200. In a few days the six-foot fence should go up, and soon afterward we may expect to see formal restrictions against parking on the south side of Pines Boulevard. As Kelly infers, knowing that you are watching them and taking their picture should be a strong deterrent.

Chick And Adult Arriving With Fish 20090218

Friday, February 27:

Trisha posted this “morning report” on the Forum page:“The parents and eaglets were very active during the period 9am-noon. The adults were taking turns bringing food to the nest and the eaglets were both very active during non feeding periods as well. Both eaglets were observed flapping their wings and moving around up towards the nest rim. Hopefully there will be some good photos with the long lenses to compare their development. I noticed that for a few of the feedings the adult would bring the food to the nest and then leave quicker than I have noticed before. The eaglets would then seem to pull and tear at the food like the adults do. Both young were seen doing this. I don’t know whether this means the food brought was very small or it is part of their maturation process, or none of the above. Finally about 11:30 1 adult stood on the nest rim and the eaglets were not visible (maybe exhausted after their busy morning feeding and exercising?) They remained in this mode as I left at noon… I hope the crew installing the chain link fence does so with as little noise and commotion as possible. Sometimes what seems like the best idea really may do more harm than good…as we spoke about yesterday.

“…Putting a fence so people cannot pull off the road, in my humble opinion, could cause the onlookers to slow down and stop on the highway, precipitating lots of car horns. Yesterday, when I had the binoculars on one of the adults there was a long car horn, very loud. The sound startled me and I noticed the bird becoming very erect and turning its head toward the sound. Hopefully the eagles will get used to the possible increase in sound like they have other human activities.”

To read more ongoing reports, and to add your own observations, please visit the Forum, here at the bottom of the “Eagle Watching” page. 
As you can see, we are sharing some interesting information about eagle behavior.

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