EagleCam Updates - 2010
Click image for the photo gallery:
Spring Update #8 - August 4, 2010
Action in the nest has declined a great deal with the departure of the young eagle. We plan on going up in the nest sometime later in the month to install a new HD camera, an improved camera mount and other equipment. Keep an eye out for our adults, who are occasionally visiting the nest.
Spring Update #7 - July 15, 2010
Our young eagle has been flying around the nest area now since its first flight since on or around June 13th. While the bird has learned to fly, it has only started to learn to hunt, leaving it often times in the nest yelling to its parents for dinner.
Note the turtle shells in the nest. Turtles have been easy prey this season for the eagles and we have counted at least four shells (probably more) in the nest.
With its rudimentary hunting skills, the young eagle will soon head off away from its Shepherdstown home, not to be seen again in these parts. Our adults will very likely hang around for the rest of the summer, and in the Fall begin to tidy up the nest for the next nesting season.
Spring Update #6 - June 11, 2010
The last month has seen our young eagle get to full size and continue to grow in the feathers necessary for flight. Food has been abundant. As we get close to the first flight, keep an eye out for the adults to stop bringing in food. This will give extra incentive for our juvenile to take that first leap of faith out of the nest, very soon.
Spring Update #5 - May 10, 2010
Our weather has been unusually cool and windy the past few days, with temperatures dipping into the 30s in the mornings.
Our eaglet continues to grow to near adult size and further gain its first primary feathers. Continue to watch for increased pre-flight activity like jumping and stretching of wings, although we still have a good six weeks before an expected first flight.
The adults continue to bring in a bounty of food, but they are now leaving for longer periods and do not stay around as much supervising the safety of their now near adult-sized offspring. As this brief note is written, neither adult is at the nest tree.
Spring Update #4 - April 22, 2010
Earth Day 40th Anniversary
As our eaglet celebrates it's first 30 days in the nest, it continues to grow with the fine diet delivered on a regular basis by our two adults. You'll note that the first plumage is beginning to grow in, they are the darker patches you can see, and the young eagle will begin to preen itself of its first layer of grey down feathers with the growth of the new feathers.
While the adults will still feed the eaglet, it has opportunities to pull off food from the various fish and other prey left in the nest. It is also quite mobile and able to move around the nest. Again, note that even when you see no adults in the nest, they are almost always perched in the tree, keeping close watch.
Once the first plumage is more developed, you'll be able to note the first pre-flight exercises-jumping and flapping. But don't expect that for a few more weeks yet. Remember the time from hatch to fledge is about 12 weeks, and this eaglet hatched on March 21, so the fledge will occur in late June.
Happy Earth Day.
Spring Update #3 - April 12, 2010
Our eaglet continues to grow at a rapid rate. They usually fledge about 12 weeks after the hatch.
Lots of fish are coming up to the nest, so there is plenty of food-- it always helps to have the Potomac a 30 second flight away from the nest.
The adults have been leaving the youngster "alone" more often, but in reality there is always an adult perched within a few feet of the nest.
More soon as the eaglet continues to grow into a "teenager".
Spring Update #2 - April 2, 2010
Our young eaglet is growing fast thanks to the abundance of food and the good parenting from our eagle pair. The good weather doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s how Arthur Cleveland Bent, in his Life Histories of North American Birds, a classic series that describes the lives of many North American Birds, describes the development of the eaglet’s plumage.
“When first hatched the downy young eaglet is completely covered with long, thick, silky down, longest on the head; it is "smoke gray" on the back, paler gray on the head and under parts, and nearly white on the throat. When the young bird is about three weeks old this light gray or whitish down is pushed out and replaced by short, woolly, thick down of a dark, sooty-gray color, "hair brown" to "drab." The plumage begins to appear on the body and wings, scattered brownish-black feathers showing on the scapulars, back, and sides of the breast, when about five or six weeks old; at this age the wing quills are breaking their sheaths. At the age of seven or eight weeks the eaglet is fairly well feathered, with only a little down showing between the feather tracks, and the flight feathers are fully half grown.”
Spring Update #1 - March 22, 2010
On Sunday, March 21, 2010, at about 4 PM EDT the eaglet hatched out. This is great news since this is the one egg out of four that made it this year, and it was right on time. There will be lots of action now with the new eaglet. Plenty of food will be brought into the nest, and there will be ample time to watch this now tiny eagle grow.
Winter Update #7 - March 11, 2010
Spring has sprung here in the eastern panhandle of WV. While there are still big snowdrifts to melt in the region, most of the surface snow has melted; the temps have warmed; and the red winged black birds are back--a sure sign of Spring. The eagles continue to keep their solitary egg warm and dry. They will be tested in the next few days as we have a rain event that promises to be a strong storm, but the temperatures will be in the fifties and sixties. In the event of heavy rain, watch how the eagles will extend their wings to "tent" the area of the nest with the egg. We are expecting that this egg will hatch in about ten days.
Winter Update #6 - March 4, 2010
Our eagles are tending to one egg. The other egg, which we felt had questionable viability, is now not seen, likely under the layers of grass that continues to be brought into the nest. The egg that is being incubated was layed on February 13th. This would put us into a hatching trajectory of on or around March 21. Let's hope the weather gets better and does not throw any more snowy obstacles in the way. Continue to keep an eye out for fish being brought into the nest -- March is the best time to catch big walleye on our vicinity of the river, and these birds can carry in some big fish when they are hungry.
Winter Update #5 - February 25, 2010
We are now in the long waiting period to the hatch. The adult eagles incubate the eggs for about 35 days or so. The eagles are diligently taking care of their two eggs, and fortunately the weather has been relatively fair.
The eagles are keeping the eggs warm with their brood patch, a featherless section of skin filled with blood vessels. The little "dance" they do when going back on the eggs ensures that their brood patch is in contact with the eggs.
Watch for the rolling of the eggs throughout the day, about once an hour. This is done with their talons rolled up to protect the egg, and the rolling action ensures that the embryo does not stick to the eggshell.
We still feel that one egg is likely viable and the other probably is not, but they may surprise us.
Also keep an eye out for live fish being brought in from the Potomac River, which is a few hundred yards down the hill from the nest tree. The fishing on this stretch of river is excellent, and some of the fish brought in are big ones. Big or small, the fish don't last long.
Winter Update #4 - February 19, 2010
We have had several days of fair, but chilly weather here in Shepherdstown. Our eagles are tending to two eggs, including a fourth egg that was laid last Saturday, February 13th. Whether or not both are viable is subject to discussion, but we believe that at least one is, hopefully both. Weather is expected to warm up through the weekend, with a chance of snow/sleet/rain on Monday. This will be the bird's next challenge. Keep watching.
Winter Update #3 - February 12, 2010
The winter weather has been a major hindrance for the successful nesting of our eagle pair this year. With snow amounts approaching or exceeding 40 inches in the last week, this has served to overwhelm our birds and quite likely result in the first three eggs being non-viable.
Here's a history of the eggs laid thus far:
2/2 10:15pm--First egg laid.
2/6 2:12pm--Second egg laid.
2/9 6:00pm--Third egg laid.
Within hours of the second egg being laid, it became apparent that by their behavior that the eagles had lost their eggs in the deep snow that filled the nest.
A third egg was laid during the second storm on Feb. 9th, but the eagles have not been attentive to keeping the egg warm, and it seems likely that this clutch is no longer viable.
Time will tell if the eagles will lay more eggs. The odds are typically 50/50 for a second clutch. With this problem happening early this year, we are hoping that there will be additional eggs produced.
Winter Update #2 - February 3, 2010
We had a moderate snow event overnight, and this morning our viewers noticed that the first egg had been laid. Not the best weather, but these adults are diligent and know what it takes to keep the egg dry and warm.
Look for up to two additional eggs over the next several days separated by at least 24 hours.
More snow is forecasted for Friday and Saturday, which will prove to be a challenge to the eagles.
Winter Update #1 - January 21, 2010
The Shepherdstown eagles are working hard to prepare the nest for some new young. Despite a "hiccup" where we had to replace the nest cam last week, everything is going smooth towards eggs being laid in very early February.
The changing of the cam at this late date had to be done carefully, and we did the work with one of the Fish and Wildlife Service's "primo" eagle biologists onsite at the nest tree and in consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service's Elkins Field Office.
You'll notice that we have again changed to position of the cam to provide a better view of the entire nest.