Come On Spring!

You never know just what kind of winter to expect in Dayton, Ohio. Some are mild with just a few sub-zero days while others hit hard and just refuse to go away. This winter has been the latter. I’ve always enjoyed the change of seasons but this year I am really looking forward to spring!

And so are Jim, Cindy and their noisy neighbors.

Montgomery County’s only pair of nesting Bald Eagles are once again proving to be faithful incubators. They continue to take turns keeping their eggs warm and turned as the following picture illustrates. It shows Cindy arriving in the background as Jim departs in the foreground. The exchange only takes a minute or two before the arriving eagle has carefully settled onto the eggs.

Changing incubators.

Changing incubators.

 With the cold temperatures the eagles are frequently adding grass and other greenery to the soft brooding pocket in the center of the nest. As they incubate they are continually pulling this material around the clutch to reduce any drafts and better insulate the precious eggs from the chilling air. It is a very careful and quiet process.

More fresh bedding.

More fresh bedding.

In stark contrast though, the Great Blue Heron rookery that decorates three sycamore trees not too far from the aerie is anything but quiet. It is a noisy hive of activity as dozens of heron prepare their own nurseries for this spring’s hatchlings.

The heronry.

The heronry.

All of that heronry reconstruction requires new building material and the Great Blues prefer sticks too small for Jim and Cindy to use. Currently the air traffic is pretty consistent with the birds’ arrivals and departures.

One more stick.

One more stick.

Although these long-necked waders have learned to give the aerie its proper respect, Jim and Cindy will still sometimes need to scream a warning at any Great Blues that venture too close to their palace.

A friendly warning?

A friendly warning?

(Please allow me to add a cautionary reminder: Should you find yourself blessed with the opportunity to view nesting activity, please respect the birds’ privacy and do not venture too close to their nests. The pictures posted here are taken through super-telephoto lenses and are usually cropped and edited. Keeping the eggs safe and warm is a constant challenge and the survival of the fragile life inside those shells depends on it. In the case of eagles and many other birds, disturbing their nesting habitat or causing them stress is also illegal.)

All in all, these nesting activities are sure signs that spring will soon return to the area. The daylight hours are getting longer and that sunshine is a little warmer. (It is even looking like we may have pretty decent weather for this Saturday’s gathering with Five River MetroParks to talk about the eagles and view the aerie through spotting scopes. We will meet at the east end of Eastwood Lake at 10 AM.) Eventually winter’s icy grip will fail and we will break free from its grasp. Crocus, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are working their way toward the surface of the frozen soil. With the fragrant freshness of spring will come the hatching of eggs and the beginning of the feeding frenzy that proclaims the presence of eaglets in the aerie! Come on spring!

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Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 7:09 pm  Comments (12)  

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love hearing about Jim and Cindy. The heron update was also interesting! What a rookery! I agree with your “Come on, Spring” comment, as ice felled our largest front yard tree last night.

  2. Jim, I know of one egg in the nest.. are there more that we know about?

  3. It’s good to know that Jim and Cindy are doing well and keeping the eggs warm. I also like the picture of them scolding the herons about the noise that’s coming from the heron neighborhood!!!! That is so funny! Thanks for the pictures and your much appreciated updates!!! Polly.

  4. Can’t wait!

  5. Awesome pictures! Wow, a nearby heronry. I have never seen anything like that. Thanks for your updates and amazing pictures!

  6. Sorry to hear that you lost a tree Carolyn. Hope it did not do any damage as it fell. Enough is enough already! I am SO ready for sunshine and eaglets!

  7. Well Saundra, since we have no way of looking into the nest and the adult’s observable behavior is the same with one egg or four, I am playing the odds here. Two eggs are in the average Bald Eagle clutch and Jim and Cindy fledged 2 eaglets in 2011, 3 in 2012 and 2 last year so I am holding out for at least 2 (or more) this year!

  8. They are very faithful parents Polly. The noisy neighbors will be a whole lot noisier when the squawking babies arrive.

  9. Me neither Opal. Me neither.

  10. That is right Tracy. That heronry is a story unto itself. I have addressed it on the blog in the past but the short story is that when Jim and Cindy took over their tree, in 2011, the evicted 12 heron families to a neighboring tree. In 2012 they evicted them from that tree too. Last year I think that I counted 32 nests in the three trees of the current heronry. With a mom, dad and a baby or two in each poorly constructed nest that would be at least 96 squawky birds! No wonder Jim and Cindy keep shooing them farther and farther away! (One of Jim and Cindy’s two backup nests is in the middle of that heronry.)

  11. I’m visiting friends in dayton this spring and wanted to show them the rookery and eagles nest. is the gbh rookery located in the trees near the eagles nest? Thanks for any help

  12. The Great Blue Heron rookery is just a few hundred feet southwest of the nest Chris. From Eastwood Lake it would be to the right (south) of the nest tree but behind some other trees. It is pretty visible looking south from Route 4 right now, again to the right (west) of the nest, but there is no parking on the highway. I would suggest that you view it as you drive on Route 4 between Harshman Road and 444. Then you will have a better idea where to look for it from Eastwood Lake. You can also view it from a spot on the entry road to the lake. Really, one of the easiest ways to pinpoint the exact location is to let your eyes follow some of the Great Blues that fly in and out of the rookery all day. The picture that I posted on the blog was taken inside the well field during a recent authorized visit so be aware that the rookery will be some distance from these public vantage points. Good luck. Remember, if you see a distant GBH but its wings lack that curved profile (or the “V” profile of a vulture) but rather appear flat, you have likely spotted an eagle!


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