Rosyfinch Ramblings
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November 2010
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A new eagle in our back yard
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches", Bald Eagle Nest
Posted by: Ken @ 1:56 pm

Since our Florida home is situated on a small lake, I keep my camera handy in case anything interesting shows up. The weather is beautiful and we are able to keep the windows open day and night– quite a contrast to the sub-freezing temperatures we had just left behind. The third morning after our arrival back from Illinois, I heard an Osprey
calling for quite a long time.

I keep trying to catch another photo of an Osprey diving to catch a fish, so I grabbed the camera an walked out on the patio. The Osprey was nowhere in sight, but across the lake was a Bald Eagle, sitting in a neighbor’s back yard. It walked along as if limping, carrying a ten-inch fish in one of its talons. Though I did not see the cause of the disturbance, perhaps the eagle harassed the Osprey to make it drop
the fish and it landed on the lawn.

The eagle rested for a while on the lawn:

Then, it took off with a prey item– a fish with red on its tail (probably an exotic cichlid such as a  tilapia).

The eagle flew low, then swooped up to a roof two doors away:

Note that its tail feathers have dark tips.  

Some white feathers remain on its lower back and sides, as well as scattered on its wings. The bird’s head appears totally white. It is probably 4 years old, as by the time Bald Eagles are five years of age they usually have a fully white head and tail, and their body contour feathers are otherwise uniformly dark brown:

The eagle ate the entire fish while perched on the roof:

 After finishing the fish, the eagle roosted on the peak of the roof for at least a half hour:

Interestingly, the lawn where I first saw this eagle is in back of the same house where, on December 4, 2007, I photographed a pair of adult Bald Eagles courting. I heard them calling and then one flew to join the other on the roof of the two-story home.

At first the pair just moved nearer to each other:

2007_12_4_DoubleEagle 025CROP

Then, the smaller male flew up:

2007_12_4_DoubleEagle 017CROP

They copulated briefly:

2007_12_4_DoubleEagle 016CROP

Since eagles usually mate in the vicinity of their nests, this led me on a search for a nest. Three months later, a nest containing one nearly-fledged eaglet was found about 1 1/2 miles northwest of our lake. Local residents had seen eagles in the vicinity of the nest for several years previously. It was the first active Bald Eagle nest discovered in Broward County since before use of DDT was banned in the early 1970s. This pair has gone on to raise two more broods in successive years, under the watchful eyes of a cadre of volunteer guardians of its nest, in Pembroke Pines. They fledged two chicks in 2009 and three in 2010. Indeed this same pair once again returned to refurbish their nest during the past month. See: Three Eaglets in Local Nest

That leaves a question about the identity of the subadult eagle that I just saw. Was it merely passing through the area, not to be seen again? Might it be one of the earlier progeny of the local pair? Will it be tolerated within their present feeding territory? Could it pose a threat to the established pair, as interlopers may attempt to displace one of them? Continued careful observation of the nest may shed light on the significance, if any, of this third eagle.  Visit the FORUM on the Pembroke Pines Eagle Nest Watch page.

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