EAGLETS!?

In our last posting I mentioned how Jim and Cindy are staying close to the nest and conserving energy for the feeding frenzy that is rapidly approaching. Well, one thing that will always thwart that plan is the need to defend the aerie and their territorial claim. Great Horned Owls are a known threat to the eggs, but other owls and hawks can also threaten their home as well as hungry and foolhardy raccoons. But the biggest territorial threat is posed by other eagles. That was the case on the very day of my last post.

 

This is a wandering adult Bald Eagle that encroached on the Eastwood area on Tuesday.

A poor, wayfaring stranger.

A poor, wayfaring stranger.

 

This is the same nomadic bird fishing from the waters of Eastwood Lake minutes later.

Stealing a fish.

Stealing a fish.

 

This is Jim arriving in mere moments to chase away the poaching intruder.

Jim arriving to enforce his NO FISHING rule.

Jim arriving to enforce his NO FISHING rule.

 

Jim, as always, was very successful in defending his domain!

 

Now there was something else that I wanted to mention…what was it? Oh! There it is way up there in the title: “Eaglets!?”

Late Wednesday afternoon, exactly 35 days after Cindy began incubating this year’s first egg, something changed in the palace! The incubating parent became much more restless and stood to inspect the clutch much more frequently than normal. That behavior indicates that an eaglet has broken a small hole in the shell of its egg (a process known as “pipping”) or is possibly farther along in the hatching process! Jim and Cindy have been communicating with the egg-imprisoned eaglet(s) and bonding with them for days and the hatchling will recognize their voices at once. If the eaglet has only pipped, it has some work to do to free itself from the incubation chamber in which it has developed over the last 5 weeks. The little one has become quite cramped in the confines of the egg and will use a temporary growth on its beak to aid it in its escape. This eggtooth, as it is called, will fall off soon after it is no longer needed. Jim and Cindy will watch the hatching process with great anticipation but will not assist the youngster in its struggles. This is a task that it must accomplish on its own. If there are more than one egg in this year’s clutch the process will repeat itself over the next several days until all the eggs are hatched.

In a week or so we may be able to venture an educated guess as to whether or not there are multiple eaglets up there. This guess will be based on how frequently Jim and Cindy bring food to the nest. (The eaglets will be unable to maintain their own body heat for a while as their first coat of white fuzz is a poor insulator, so there will almost always be one adult in the nest brooding over the youngsters. But eaglets grow very rapidly and change daily. That white fuzz will be replaced by a gray down that will be pierced with the prickly growth of tiny feathers. With around 7,000 feathers to grow over about two months of time, the stages pass quickly. The better-insulating, gray down will soon become much like gray, flannel underwear.) Another hint of multiple eaglets will be if we see Jim and Cindy simultaneously shredding fish and feeding from opposite sides of the nest. They are very good parents and this method insures that all of their eaglets are properly nourished. The oldest nestling will have a day’s or more growth on its siblings and this larger, more agile and often more aggressive eaglet can consume so much of the food that a younger and weaker sibling may starve.

It will likely be mid-April before we will be able to get a true headcount for the new arrivals. Although the Eagle-cams have had some real issues this year, they are still the best source of answers for our many questions as we watch the developing story of Jim and Cindy’s 2014 eaglets.

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Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love the writing style you use to explain so simply all that is going on in the process of having eaglets.

  2. I love it! Can’t wait to see how many there are…..as always Jim ! You’re a wealth of information…..thank you kind sir, for all your excellent updates! Until the next one…….have a great day!

  3. Thanks Jim for the update! This is very exciting news and even though I have followed you for a couple of years, I’m still learning something new with each post!!! And I will let you try the fishy cigars first!!!!! Polly.

  4. Thank you Sidney. I simply find their story simply amazing!

  5. Thank you Opal. (I hope we get to count to 3 again!)

  6. I really worry about being so repetitive that I become boring Polly. The story repeats itself every year but each year I see it through a fresh perspective as if I were watching the adventure for the first time. I am constantly learning from them too. (I still think that I will pass on those fishy cigars though.)


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