Rock-a-by Baby in the Treetop

Looking straight up at the aerie.

The incubation continues and with the recent 50-60 mph winds I spent a lot of time watching the nest swaying back and forth on the Boonshoft Museum’s eagle-cams. The words of the old Rock-a-by Baby lullaby came to mind: “Rock-a-by baby on the treetop. When the wind blows the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks…” (Lets not even go there!). It amazes me that the uppermost branches of this old sycamore tree can support a few hundred pounds of sticks and twenty-some pounds of Bald Eagles.

On a recent off-nesting-season visit I was able to capture the above image from directly below the huge nest and take a real good look at that tree. It is in a line of sycamores that contain a few Great Blue Heron rookeries (sometimes refered to as a “heronry”) to the east and west. There is a large field and a water reservoir to the south and a gravel road, a grassy area, other trees and The Mad River to the north. Since our winds are primarily from the west-southwest, it is somewhat buffered by other trees. The open areas to the north and south provide easy access and a good field of vision for the eagles. The tree is also well rooted in a grassy, gentle slope.

The old heron nest that the eagles confiscated in late 2010 was about the size of the one in the lower right side of the picture, about 2-3 feet in diameter. The smaller sticks at the base of the aerie are the remains of that nest. The entire thing is nestled in a fork of the limbs of the tree. Just as modern skyscrapers are designed to move in the wind, these sturdy branches sway to and fro. In both instances this movement transfers the stress from the upper structure to the solid foundation below. If not for this flexibility, the bough would indeed break from the strain and “down would come baby, cradle and all.” Amazing.

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Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for the update on the Eastwood Eagles. I had a chance to see them in the tree last week and wondered about the strong winds all the creatures are having to bear during their mating/nesting season.

    I have been following the Decorah Eagles and have seen their 3 eggs laid. They have had snow and colder temperatures to endure. It is just amazing to watch and learn about the eagles. They have a moderated chat and moderators on their social stream to help answer all eagle questions.

    http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

    I have included the above link for any who are interested.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I have been watching the Decorah Eagles too. Last March’s snowstorm left our incubating adults covered in snow and then we had 60-70 mph winds. They are amazing.


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