Just As Predicted, They Can Fly!

They just don’t know it yet.

I enjoyed a beautiful evening watching an even more beautiful sight, young eaglets lifting off and flying! For now they are only flying straight up about three feet and then settling back down into the nest, but they are flying. That crowded nest appeared even smaller as eaglets tried to avoid being clobbered by the flapping wings of their sibling perfecting their take off and landing skills. All of this activity resulted in some inadvertent bumps on the head and some momentary staredowns. Jim and Cindy on the other hand sat quietly in a nearby tree and watched the festivities from a safe distance.

Once in a while one of the adults would fly by and circle the nest while chattering, drawing the eaglets attention skyward, enticing them to join them in the sky. And within the next few weeks they will do just that.  Jim and Cindy are feeding them less and the hunger of the eaglets will encourage them to fly. As each eaglet gains strength and confidence they will venture a little higher or hover a little longer. They will make short flights to nearby branches and then one will finally leap from the edge of the nest and fly to the ground. There they will compose themselves and then fly to a low tree branch where Mom or Dad may join them and even feed them. The siblings in the aerie will watch with great curiosity as if to say, “Where did he go!?” or at least, “How did he do that!?” The eaglet may stay on that perch for a day or two before trying it all again. Each new flight brings better skill. The flights will become longer and stronger. Eventually the eaglet may fly back to the nest and familiar surroundings and company.

Each eaglet must make that initial flight on their on terms and in their own timing. It is this first flight that can prove so costly. Landing is the most dangerous part. Striking a wing on any solid object can also prove fatal. Getting back up into a tree is again crucial to survival as a grounded eaglet is a vulnerable eaglet. Then they will have to watch and learn as Jim and Cindy teach them how to fish and hunt. The instinct is there, but the skill is an art that will be mastered over the summer. Jim and Cindy are excellent instructors and the eaglets are in good talons.

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 5:04 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Jim, what kind of camera/lens do you and Roger use to bring us these amazing photos?

  2. Hi Peggy,

    Thank you for your comment. Roger is “old school” with a Nikon DSLR with a BIG Nikkor super-telephoto lens and multiplier that I think ends up being about 800mm. I am “new school” (also known as cheap) and shoot with a Nikon Coolpix P510 that has Nikkor glass with a 42 power mechanical zoom. ($450 for mine vs $1000s for Roger’s rig.) Roger puts in long hours and is a naturally gifted, self-taught photographer.

  3. Jim,

    When will we be able to know the the sex of the eaglets?


  4. Very good question, with avery disappointing answer: Probably never. Male and female eaglets are identical in plumage as are the adults. Adult Bald Eagle females tend to be larger in height, heavier in weight, broader in appearence and usually have a larger wingspan than adult males. But unless they are side by side these relative measurements are hard to assess. There is always the possibility of a smaller female pairing with a larger male also. Of course if you happen to see the birds mating you can figure out which is which. The only sure way is to remove an eaglet from the nest and examine the bird. ODNR has jurisdiction in that matter and since the Bald Eagle population has rebounded so successfully and there are very real risks involved to both the eaglet and those retrieving, examining and replacing the eaglet, as well as the expense incurred and the disturbance of the nesting area, sexing of eaglets is rare. In the event of an injury, nest collapse or other activity that results in the recovery of an eaglet, sex and other data is still recorded as a routine practice. This is how we know that Spirit, the eaglet that was injured and euthanized last year, was indeed a male. We are still unsure of the gender of Pride. I wish I had a better answer for you. I dislike using the pronoun “it” instead of “he” or “she” in my postings here or my updates on the Boonshoft eagle-cam webpage. On the other hand, there are only two possibilities so we always have a 50% chance of being correct if we make a wild guess.

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