What Took You So Long?

Today tis St. Patty’s Day, a day for the wearin’ o’ the green. Surely this Mallard laddie must have just flown in from visitin’ the wee people on The Emerald Isle.


It is also three days until spring! And yesterday’s 70-degree, sunny weather sure felt like it! From sunup to sundown spring was in the air bringing a little spring to the step of each winter-weary Daytonian. The western sky at sunset was particularly spectacular.


Jim and Cindy appreciated the warm sunshine too as it melted away the last bit of ice on Eastwood and Eagle Lakes. I spent a few hours lakeside hoping to see one of our local monarchs fishing from its waters but I left somewhat disappointed. I did see a bit of soaring but the action was all quite close to the palace. That is as it should be. We are just over a week from the pipping of the first egg. (If you are new to that term, pipping is when the unhatched eaglet  uses it eggtooth [a small, temporary growth on the top of its beak] to puncture the eggshell.) Mom and Dad are already calling to the imprisoned eaglets and the parental bonding process is well underway. The eaglet will use that tiny hole as a new way to experience Mom, Dad, sunlight, wind and so much more for the very first time. (Do you know what they call that excited sound made by an eagle watcher when they see a pipped eagle egg? A pipsqueak.) The entire escape from their fragile prison may take as long as 48 hours and the exhausted eaglet may have to rest for up to a day before it will begin to feed.

That is why I was not surprised to see little of Jim and Cindy yesterday. They instinctively know that hatching is drawing near. The eggs beneath them are beating. They move and vibrate as the eaglet within stirs. Adult eagles are designed for this process and every year during the last few weeks before hatching our adults become almost motionless. Unless they are hunting, feeding, going to or from the nest, defending it from a threat or repositioning an egg, Jim and Cindy, whether incubating or perched nearby appear almost lifeless. They know that the annual feeding frenzy will soon begin so now they conserve body fat and energy. During January’s courtship their feathers were brilliantly fresh and clean but by summer they will be tattered and soiled from the unending task of feeding and brooding. Eaglets grow remarkably fast and are constantly in need of nourishment. That roofless aerie will bake in the sunlight and chill in the moonlight. Eaglets cannot reach a lake or river to drink and bathe. Birds do not nurse so their only source of hydration is from rainwater and the moisture found in the prey that Mom and Dad bring home to them. Jim and Cindy know what awaits them so for now they are quiet and still.

Each chapter of their story is a marvel. They are perfectly equipped to see this job though. The pair-bond they share is so necessary for the success of the nest for it is indeed a two-eagle-job. The harshness of winter is fading away and the promise of spring is in the air. This winter was a doozy. I join Jim and Cindy in welcoming spring back to the Miami Valley of Ohio. But I have to ask: What took you so long?


Published in: on March 17, 2015 at 3:48 pm  Comments (14)  

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anticipation builds. For now, I watch many live falcon cams from Boonshoft, around the US and Canada. An eagle cam from Pennsylvania and a Great Horned Owl nest from Savannah, GA with owlets. I so look forward to your Eastwood posts. Thank you!

  2. Loved this post. Never ever dreamed about the source of the word “pipsqueak!” Best of luck to the new life about to be born!

  3. Thank you so much for the informative and beautifully written blog on the the eaglet hatching process. Also, loved hearing about Jim and Cindy’s roles during the wait. You write so magnificently. Can’t wait until your next blog.

  4. Eaglejim, I can’t wait to hear your “pipsqueak” all the way to where I live!!!!! This is an amazing time for Jim and Cindy and for all of us who love them. Thank you for the update and the time you spend keeping us informed…………Polly.

  5. Hi eagle Jim
    I love the eagles.I drive by at least once a week to see if I can see them .My question is where do you park to watch them.Last year I spotted an eagle in a tree next to the water off central ave. I love all the updates you give and the photos are magnificent.

  6. I have learned so much from reading your blog here!! I’ve excitedly gone to the lake to capture as much eagle footage as possible the last couple of months. I’ve been known to sit there for four hours…every now and then I’ll drive around a bit to capture a great blue heron lunching on a big ‘ole fish…but, for the most part, my goal is eagle shots-epic eagle shots! Thank you for sharing your passion here and allowing us to learn from your adventures. Wendy G

  7. Thank you M. Braun Mazur for tagging along. I hope we can get things streaming again by next nesting season. So many cams, so little time.

  8. I’m not sure if my theory holds water Carolyn but pipsqueak refers to a small (or young and inexperienced) being and a freshly hatched squeaking chick is definitely that so why not. Seems only right to interpolate the term to the utterances of an excited eagle watcher.

  9. Thank you Pat. Their determined and dedicated devotion to each other and their offspring is amazing to see.

  10. Thank you again Polly. I hope to be squeaking soon, at least twice!

  11. Well Bonnie, I usually hang out at the east end of Eastwood Lake, between the lake and Harshman Road. You can usually see them from there and if they venture to Eastwood Lake they pass overhead. They also like to perch in the trees on that end of the lake if there are no fishermen around there.

  12. Sometimes, Wendy,it takes a few hours and even then they like to toy with us by not quite crossing the road or sneaking up from behind. Now that the ice is finally gone and the eggs should soon be hatching the action will pick up! (Be aware that spring brings out lot of ticks in the area. They catch the breeze off the lake and sail through the air until they land on something or someone. But even that has an upside as the ticks and other insects attract hungry songbirds and swallows each spring too. Some years the swallows are so many that they will buzz by your head and land a few feet away!)

  13. Any news on the little guys breaking out of their shell? I cant wait to see Jim and Cindy teach them how to survive in the wild.

  14. I hope my latest post answered your question Janet. My apologies for not posting the news sooner but I wanted to be sure before I posted. Thanks for asking!

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