Rosyfinch Ramblings
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February 2010
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Three eaglets in local nest
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Bald Eagle Nest
Posted by: Ken @ 8:00 pm

     Bald Eagles usually lay two eggs, but three is not all that unusual. Of 186 Central Florida rural and urban nests studied by Brian Millsap between 1997 and 2001, only three produced three fledglings. Since eggs are laid at 2-4 day intervals, and the female begins incubating as soon as the first egg is laid, the first chick has an age, size and strength advantage of a week or more over the third. Interestingly, the oldest of these three chicks seems to ignore the smallest one, while the middle chick has been aggressive at times. Happily, the parents take pains to see that all three chicks are fed. If food were scarce, the oldest chick would out-compete the smaller chick(s), and they would starve, be forced out of the nest, or even eaten by the larger sibling.  For updates on the eagles and information about plans for a sanctuary and nest camera, visit the Nest Watching FORUM.

When I arrived the female was on the nest, feeding the chicks:

I clearly saw all three eaglets. The amount of white down decreases with age. The smallest one was near the adult’s foot, and the oldest was in the center:

The chicks watched as their mother departed:

female cleaned her bill and roosted in the melaleuca graveyard. Oh the
joys of motherhood! — her plumage is soiled with fecal matter:

The middle chick flapped quite a bit:

This seemed to annoy the oldest chick, who popped up and bit him on the wrist:

Then, the male parent came in with unknown prey and spent a lot of time feeding the chicks. Note how the tree trunk is “painted” with excrement, as the chick learn to expel wastes over the edge of the nest (too bad that mom was in the way):

The male flew over to the melaleucas and joined the female:

In the meantime, Frank Ortis, Mayor of Pembroke Pines, showed up with a reporter and photographer from the Sun-Sentinel. Click here for a video of nest and interview with Mayor Ortis. I fear that this will attract crowds of onlookers:

The Mayor has been very supportive of our efforts to protect the local eagle nest from undue disturbance, including development of an eagle protection ordinance, and he plans to officially designate the eagle’s nesting area as a City sanctuary: