Fledging Day Has Arrived – The Eagle Family – Final Chapter

 

(Since January 2016, I have been observing and photographing a pair of bald eagles which nested, hatched two eggs, and nurtured the eaglets. The series of photo essays on The Eagle Family can be found at these links: Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4.)

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (5 of 12)First flights! This is a first flight from the nest to a nearby tree. This is juvenile #1 after flying to a tree about 75 feet to the north of the nest. The young one landed on a limb, hung on for dear life, and then decided to test the limits by flapping another five or six feet to another branch.

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (6 of 12)

It discovered that balancing on a limb is more precarious than balancing on the nest. It wobbled, flapped and

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (7 of 12)

seemed to say, “Perhaps if I chew off a bit of this knob I can get a better grip.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (10 of 12)

Juvenile 2 is even more uncertain. It perched on the same tree as Number 1. Then it flew back to the tree where the nest is located. It landed on a branch and settled in for a spell.

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (8 of 12)

Number 1 followed, planning to land. But it discovered those small twigs at the top of the tree won’t hold a bird of its size.

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (1 of 12)

So it flew on (as there’s really no choice), circled the tree, and headed for a stand of tress a few hundred yards away. I saw it land in the treetops in a flutter of wings and leaves, too far for my camera to get a decent shot, but it  would have been an embarrassing photo anyway. No eagle would want to be seen crash landing.

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (9 of 12)

Mother eagle circled the young ones with a fish. I’m thinking she was attempting to lure them to follow her for a feeding. This is part of the training to move them from the nest as well as to begin to teach them to hunt on their own.

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Family - Part 4 (2 of 12)

After its own traumatic landing, Number 2 was not that hungry yet. It is less mature, and more insecure than its sibling.

 

 

 

 

 

It sat perched and called out to its sibling, which flew in from the treetops and landed just below. The difference between the two is very interesting. Juvenile 1 is more aggressive, coordinated and adventurous. Number 2 is smaller and rather obsequious.

 

Now that they’ve fledged they have a lot more to learn. The survival rate for young eagles is horrible. By most reliable estimates, only 1 in 10 reach adulthood, which is 5 years of age. I’m hoping these young ones are among the survivors.

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