Friday, December 28, 2007

Dec 28 Eagle Happenings

While we wait for a little more activity in our Eagles online I thought I would
share a little eagle fix from the Quad Cities area.
Here is a graph From US Fish and Wildlife Service I want to share with you first.

I have snagged a smaller are from this and pointed to my approximate location

on the graph.

This is where I enjoyed watching so many eagles on Dec 27, about 10 minutes
from my home.

Here is a link to a slideshow I made from yesterdays trip to the River.

You Tube also has a video with some of the sites and sounds here.

Winter is a difficult time for our feathered friends however:
During the winter, numerous eagles from northern states and Canada migrate south to find food. The birds begin arriving in Iowa during September and become more numerous through January, depending on the harshness of the winter. By the mid-1980s approximately 1,500 eagles total wintered in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. By 1996, that number has escalated to nearly 5,700 wintering eagles, more than one-third of all bald eagles counted in the lower 48 states during winter. Usually, only 200 to 300 eagles winter in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The highest concentration of eagles in the Midwest is along the Mississippi River. Approximately 2,500 to 4,000 bald eagles winter along the Mississippi between Minneapolis and 50 miles south of St. Louis. The Mississippi River is a popular wintering area for bald eagles because of abundant food and open water, particularly at locks and dams and power plants that keep the river from freezing. This provides the eagles with an area to hunt their primary food source--fish. Gizzard shad and other fish often are stunned as they pass through the gates of the dam. This creates an easy-to-catch source of food for eagles. At Keokuk, where these conditions exist, 100 to 400 bald eagles may winter in the area.

In addition to food, eagles need places to roost during the night and perch during the day. Bald eagles generally roost together in large mature trees surrounded by a buffer of smaller trees. Roosts are chosen by the eagles to provide protection from the weather and avoid disturbances. Roosts are also generally close to a source of food. Daytime perches are usually within 60 yards of the water’s edge. Large cottonwoods tend to be used most frequently, although the eagles will choose smaller trees that are closer to the water. On mild days eagles may be seen standing on the ice.

Eagle Etiquette
During the winter, bald eagles are under pressure to consume enough food and expend as little energy as possible in order to maintain body heat. If fishermen, bird watchers, or boaters get too close to the eagles, the birds will waste valuable energy flying away. It exposes them to undue stress and could cause abandonment of a site. To avoid disturbing eagles, do not get any closer than 400 yards from a perched eagle. If vegetation obscures the eagle’s view of you, still avoid getting closer than 100 yards. When possible, stay in your vehicle, use a blind, or stand behind stationary objects when viewing eagles. Stay on the opposite side of the river or lake to allow them a peaceful refuge. Since over 70 percent of the eagle’s feeding occurs during the early morning, avoid visiting areas that eagles rely on for food before 9 a.m. That will help to allow the eagle enough time to adequately feed before human activity disrupts their forage. For a large bird with no natural predators, the mortality or death rate of the bald eagle is quite high. The chances of a juvenile bald eagle surviving its first year of life today are less than 50%. After that first year, the bald eagle stands a much better chance of living to its full lifespan, which is anywhere from 30-40 years in the wild. The mortality rate of the bald eagle falls to about 25% after the first year of life. The hazards of the wild are clear when one considers that a bald eagle raised in captivity may add an additional ten years to its lifetimeing.

Mortality is highest for eagles in their first year of life, especially their first six months. The first winter is crucial


Above info and stats gathered from various online info. I am not an eagle expert just another eagle lover sharing the info I have with you.

What is happening around the EagleCam web?

Click to play A+Fresh+New+Start
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh my goodness look!!!

click photo to enlarge

Well was it a wish or a prayer? Maybe it is just a dream but it sure was lots of fun dreaming.

Merry Christmas Eagle Lovers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Variety of Celebrations Eagle Style

The Christmas Feast at Blackwater

4 calling birds

3 French Hens

2 Turtle Doves

AND A Partridge in a pear tree

Thanks for sharing these photos Suzanne


And our Eagle Pairs gathering together once again to Celebrate New Eagle on some of the activity that occurs as pairs once again re-unite at their chosen nesting sites.

Below A Wonderful article written by David Hancock

Bald eagles mate from the time of returning to the nest territory in early fall through egg laying, and sometime a few months after. Like all raptors that I know, the mating takes place when the female is securely standing on a perch, usually a high tree limb, and the males gently lands upon her back, using both his wings to carefully balance, and then curling his tail and cloaca under the female’s tail, which she has simultaneously moved to the side as she turned her cloaca upwards so the two cloaca touch face to face. The sperm passes from his cloaca to hers and then travels up the oviduct to meet the downward flowing ova for the ‘meeting’, the fertilization.
What great moments of trust. These great predators who can instantly kill prey with the sharp and powerful talons are now, so gently and trustfully, coming in direct contact. The trust that allows the female to accept the males killing talons onto her vulnerable back is quite extraordinary – but it is an essential and ultilmate act of the bonding that has been developed between them. No bonding, no trust, no mating, no young, no species!
Lets go back: The Pre-nuptials!!
On October 9, 2002 1030: I was at our Blaine WA warehouse and heard an adult bald eagle scream – I immediately ran outside as this was the first record of the eagles return since their departure in mid-July when they left the nearby nest with the young. But the intensity and pitch of the call was most unusual. It was the males higher pitch but the intensity and constancy of the calling was unusual. But I could see no other birds around or direction to his intentions. This was their favorite hunting perch overlooking Semiamoo Bay so I was used to them being here.
The male continued his calls almost non-stop for over an hours when all of a sudden he changed the pitch and intensity – something was up and I darted outside to see what. He was now standing horizontally on the branch, his head stretched outward to the southern shore of the Bay and his calls were quick and loud. Within a few seconds later and I could focus on the source of his calls – another approaching adult eagle – headed straight at us. The approaching bird stared to scream and it was obviously a female by the deeper call, she circled the calling male and landed on the adjacent tree about 80 feet away. Both birds kept up the calling, and within a few seconds it developed into a “unison” call, with both birds doing the same thing at the same time. Each bird arched its head forward and then upward and backwards over it shoulders so the head followed about 180 degree arch – all the time calling in unison. .
I was mesmerized. I had seen this intense behavior before but always later in the year and as a prelude to mating. Within a minute of these unison calls the male took off, flew directly to the females tree and lighted beside her. Here they continued, even increased the intensity of the calls and head throwing, always in absolute unison. Then it happened. The male jumped up on the females back and they mated. This was October 9. This was approximately 5 months from her first egg. What was the explanation?
I believe I just witnessed the return of the pair to their nesting territory from the short ten week fall northern migration. But what a reunion, what a reaffirmation with incredible vocal intensity, all taking place on their two favorite hunting perches, and then the ultimate, mating, what a climate to the event.
We know that eagles build and intensify the mutual bond between the pair through aerial displays, and particularly through the described mutual vocalizations and displays. But what I think I witnessed that day was the actual moment of their arrival back at the nesting territory after their separate northern sojourns at the end of the last breeding season, their re-confirmation of the bond, their reconfirmation of each other. In 54 years of eagle watching I have seem a lot of eagle courtship, all the aerial flights, the mutual calling and many matings. But never have I seen it done so intensely, and never so early in the year.
Just 40 miles south of Blaine WA, on the Skagit River, the USF&WS had banded a pair of adult eagles with solar powered satellite tracking devices. Sadly their two young were not tagged. But the story of the adults northern migration was quite astounding. The normal pattern of fledging occurred. The adults quite feeding the eaglets in the nest, after about 3 - 5 days they get hungry and make their first flight with the concerned parents watching. After another week of flying around the nest territory, sometimes picking up food that the adults have been eating nearby, the adults simply fly off and leave the youngster to their own fate. Harsh but obviously successful.
But this story is about what happened next to the adults. The male, now being tracked by his satellite marker headed north up the coast, exactly as we had all predicted that all adults and young do after abandoning the nest. Certainly we know that the thousands of nesting eagles of southern British Columbia were not going south as no big numbers of eagles showed up in Washington, Oregon or California in early fall. So they had to go north. The tagged male finally confirmed our suspicions. About three days after leaving the Skagit area he was tracked fishing for herring in the Prince Rupert harbor, about 600 miles up the British Columbia coast and right at the southern Alaska border. I had banded and radio tagged several eagles during my thesis years in the early 1960's but the technology then only allowed line-of-sight transmission and I never got a reading after the day of release – just too many intervening mountains to give a signal. But now we finally had some direct evidence. Our southern eagles do go north when the nesting season is over.
But that was only half the story. The female when she left the nest literally few the 40 miles north to the British Columbia border, crossed over my house, then turned eastward straight down the US / Canada border, occasionally going back and forth over the border as she worked eastward over the coast range, over the Nelson Range and then the Rockies themselves – only then did she turn north and travel up the east side of the Rockies to Great Slave Lake in northern Alberta. She covered about1200 miles in 8 days – and spent the fall months probably hunting squaw fish on the lake. Not something we would have predicted.
I tell you the above because the greetings of our two Blaine eagles, their incredible vocalizations and the intensity of the greeting and mating is perhaps not just a casual meeting, but perhaps one that acknowledges that each has undergone some quite long and arduous adventures. And who does not get a fine greeting on such a return!

David Hancock

Photo posted by Paula on IWS forum

The Dalliance of the Eagles
Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest)
Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles,
The rushing amorous contact high in space together
The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,
Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling,
In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling,
Till o'er the river pois'd, the twain yet one, a moment's lull,
A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing,
Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate diverse flight,
She hers, he his, pursuing.
--- Walt Whitman, The Dalliance of the Eagles

Last photo by Frank Dutton of the courtesy of Toledo Bend .com

More of the above talon locking courship photos can be seen here

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Its Nest Building Time

Click on images for larger view:

This is the Norfolk Nest at the Botanical Gardens.


While our pairs are busy returning to their nesting areas I wanted to take a little closer look at that nest that some like Norfolk have built from scratch just this year, and all of the other nest we watch online are doing the refurbishing. Then of course there is Kent with that huge hole George the squirrel has made. Our eagle pairs are getting busy. Take a look at what the are doing.

Info on Eagles nests taken from Bald Eagle Journey North

Airy Aeries
Of all birds in the world, Bald Eagles hold the record for the biggest nest ever built. One nest in Florida was 6.1 meters deep, 2.9 meters wide, and weighed 2,722 kg (almost 3 tons).
When a young pair of Bald Eagles needs to build a brand new nest, their first job is to find a place for it. They probably prefer a territory close to water, where they can catch fish for their babies without wasting time flying back and forth a long distance, but in some areas may nest several miles from fishing areas.

In parts of Alaska and northern Canada where trees are scarce and short, eagles often nest on the ground. In forested areas, they usually select one of the tallest trees in the area. If this is a "super-canopy" tree (one sticking up above nearby trees) the eagles can see all around, and also can fly into the nest without bonking their huge wings into branches.

In Canada and the northern and western states, eagles almost always select a coniferous tree-usually a pine, spruce, or fir. In the eastern states, where large conifers may not be available in otherwise good habitat, eagles are more likely to nest in an oak, hickory, cottonwood, or other large leafy tree.

Where do eagles get the sticks for their nest? They pick up broken sticks from the ground, and sometimes break branches off trees. They naturally take as many sticks as they can find close to the nest, but may lug some branches as far as a mile, carrying them in their talons
Eagles, along with several other hawks, add sprigs of greenery to their nests throughout the spring and summer. No one knows why they do this, but scientists have some ideas.

may serve as an insect repellent may be a clear signal to other eagles that this nest is well-tended so they better keep away may provide a bit of camouflage may help keep inside of nest clean
Home Again, Home Again! (and The Work Begins!)
Eagles usually don't lay eggs until several weeks after arriving at the nest site. They spend the first days dealing with their neighbors
In addition to defending the area from intruders, both males and females help to build the nest. If it's not their first year on the nest, they just add to the same nest used in previous years. The branches used can be up to 6 feet long and 2 inches thick.The one common denominator just about all eagle nests have in common, is the view: the view from a eagles nest is one of the most spectacular on earth - they certainly know how to pick the prime lookout spots.

Click to play Nest+Building
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Whats New and A Merry Christmas or Two

Eagle Restorations on Catalina continue in full swing. Click here to see what this man Dr Sharpe did with a little help from Steffani for the eagles who are close to a Reservoir on Catalina Island.....

New Camera is in place at Twin Rocks. I will add its url to the side of the BLOG as soon as I know it OR perhaps you will enter under CA which right now takes you to links for all of the California nests we watch.

Click here to Take a look at what the view is going to be like as we enjoy this nest...

In other news,
The Blackwater Cam... BW... and Tesoro FL cams are both coming online for their new season anytime now. Please check those links frequently so you will know and not miss the start of "Their particular Cam Eagle Viewing season.

CAPE CORAL ...CC.... appears to have been nesting a few days now. I predict a hatch on or about Jan 6. If this is correct it will be our First hatched chick of the New Eagle Season.

Bartons Cove of Northeast Utilities...... well as Norfolk are both aiming at having their cams online around the end of December. Norfolk ....NO..... is planning to add infrared lighting so we will enjoy 24/7 viewing on that nest.
Norfolk Eagles have build a new nest this year. Two years of triplets has taken its toll on the old nest. Here is a picture of their new judged to be about 500 lbs currently nest.

You can read more info and see a couple of neat slide shows by clicking here:

Maine ...ME...... and NCTC nests have both weathered their first snow storms of the season. I sincerely hope as do many of those who love these two pairs, that this years nesting season turns out a whole lot easier to weather than last year. Liberty and Belle of NCTC continue their very frequent visits to their nest.

Maine is sounding much more vocal in the last few days and there have been several sightings of eagles on the nest including a young juvenile playing in the nest after the snowstorm early this week.

You can enjoy that video by clicking here:

The Colorado Cam... CO....came online in the past week

Kent ....KE....... seems to have done some work as the hol ein the center of the nest made by under the nest resident George the squirrel seems ot have been mended.

You have no doubt noticed thatI have included the abbreviations used in the Chatroom and on this BLOG during the active season as a reminder so readers will know which nests are being referred too even if they are not spelled completely out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tesoro, Norfolk and Bartons Cove

Click to play O Christmas Tree
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News and 2 Great Slide shows from Norfolk Note the comment about the infrared Night cam that is also coming

Thanks to MeMa Jo from NCTC for sharing this info on Bartons Cove

Hi Jo,
Thank you for your interest in the eagle cam. This is the time of year when the state allows us access to the island. We recently went out to the eagle island to measure the batteries for replacement, straighten and reorient the solar panel, and repair and rehang wiring. The tree that holds the nest is dead and quite unstable, so we are unable to climb the tree to access the camera. We are also working on site accessing issues. Last year there were several times when the camera was functioning but viewers were unable to see the birds due to limited band width issues.
We plan to have the camera up by the time the eagles return to the nesting area around the end of the month.
Cheers Bill

We have another Great Eagle Season just ahead of us. The news here is the result of many folks working very hard to get those special pictures and that up to the minute LOL info on what is happening around the eagle cams.

I appreciate anytime any of you share some of that info or photos with me. It makes this BLOG much more enjoyable, and my job all the easier.

This work is time consuming and yet a Labor of Love...the more info that arrives in my email, the more time I have to watch the cam and get some of those neat captures to share with all of you.