We visited our local Bald Eagle nest this morning. Since the first egg was laid on or about December 13, 2008, we expected it to hatch on or about yesterday, January 17, 2009. Signs that an egg has hatched might include any change in behavior. Also, after an eaglet hatches, the incubating adult must continue to incubate any remaining egg(s), while sheltering the new arrival, and do this without crushing or smothering the helpless baby. Therefore, the parent will tend to stand up higher in the nest.
8:15 AM: Single adult is incubating. It appears restless, changing its position several times. Up until now, the incubating bird sat far down , usually nearly out of sight in the nest cup, and it stayed in the same position for about about 20 minutes before shifting around and possibly re-positioning the eggs:
8:40 AM: After about a half hour, its mate appeared. There was about a minute of excited chirping between them, which may not be unusual. We expected them to exchange incubation duties as has been observed several times in the past:
8:45 AM: Instead of exchanging incubation duties, the pair just stood together, peering down into the nest:
8:50 AM: The bird that had been incubating did not depart. Instead, it seemed to be picking at something hidden within the nest cup. After the two had been together for about ten minutes, the other bird flew off without displacing the incubating bird. This behavior suggests that one of the eggs has hatched since yesterday:
Much has transpired since my last note. On the evening of January 16th, Kelly Smith noted that flags marking underground utilities had been placed along Pines Boulevard the entire length of the block, right in front of the “Eagle Forest.” This usually means that some kind of construction is imminent. Since this is a long weekend, we may not be able to find out until tomorrow exactly what is planned. Since the flags are only about 200 feet from the nest, and the chicks will be especially vulnerable to disturbance at this time, we are alarmed and will ask the City of Pembroke Pines to defer any non-emergency construction until after the end of the breeding season, which should be around early May. Follow the eagles and the Middle School student research project at this link.
Orange utility locator flags are barely visible in the grass, about 8 feet in from the road pavement: