During the last two weeks of June, the chick was, of course, still in the nest, with at least one adult very close by. Intentionally avoiding them, my visits were minimal and for sheer observation. For me, the thought of them abandoning their chick would be unbearable. As you know, stress is not good for any living thing, whether it be animal, vegetable or mineral.
Continuing to get up around 4:00 am even after the dogs passed, I would listen (and record) the chick begging for it's breakfast...usually around 5 am...with the adults answering tenderly. Finally on July 6th, I couldn't stand it any more. Knowing that the chick (now about 9-10 weeks old) should be "branching," I walked into the woods. It was one of the hottest, most humid days here but since I hadn't heard the adults since early that morning, I had to take advantage of the opportunity while I had the chance.
On my way in, because I am familiar with "branching," I knew the chick would be close to the nest....usually on branches adjacent to the nest where the it can simply step out onto a limb. "Branching" gives them the chance to stretch their wings, flap (sometimes lifting themselves, although I've never witnessed that), and become accustomed to their powerful eyesight.
For the past five years, the chicks have always favored the left side of the nest, which is where I focused. However, this year I noticed early on that the left side did not appear that sturdy anymore. So there I am, scanning each and every branch of a 110' pine surrounded by at least ten more massive pines. Did I see it? NO. Did it give itself away by crying? NO. It had been taught well.
After about 30 minutes, I felt like I was in a sauna since I was dressed in a long sleeve bug resistant shirt, long bug resistant pants, socks pulled over my pants, my old, tall leather boots, and my favorite baseball cap. Suddenly, my brain said, "Dummy, rather than straining your neck, follow the bird poop. Look for the signs on the ground. Look for the highest concentrations on the bushes below." So, that's how I found this year's "branching" chick. Once I located the concentration of what looked like fresh poop, I looked up. And there it was....
|2017 Chick "Branching"|
Remaining silent and wondering what a bird such as this thinks, I watched it gaze in all directions. Finally, it decided to look in my direction...:)
|2017 Chick "Branching" 07/06/17|
The next few weeks I listened attentively each morning and when I was in the yard. Based on it's cries, it was now moving around within the nest vicinity and before I knew it, it was time for another visit. So, three weeks later on July 26, I walked in hoping to find the 12 week old fledgling. That day and each visit since, I am able to find her on the 40 acres she calls "home."
You can see how much she grew and matured in a mere twenty one days.
For me, as a member of the Bald Eagle Study Group, I look for certain identifiers. For instance, this fledgling is extremely dark with a tremendous amount of white mottling and a large amount of white on her tail. These markings may help me identify her in the future before she matures at the age of five.
I am now wondering if the diet (which is directly related to the weather) of the adults has an impact.
Last year's female was also very large and dark, while the fledgling in 2014 (a male) was more of a sable brown and smaller (see last photo in post).
|2017 Fledgling 07/26/17|
Intentionally zooming in to examine more closely the thickness of it's beak and size of the talons, I was able to confirm that 2017 fledgling is, in fact, another a female!!
|2017 Fledgling 07/26/17|
just seeing, saying, and sharing...
Remember the Eagles
with you and those at