VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: Changing Before Our Eyes

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in partnership with the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC, is providing a rare glimpse into the life of two bald eagles and their offspring!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

“Changing Before Our Eyes”

The eaglets are growing rapidly. In fact eaglets grow faster then any other North American bird. They've replaced their first set of down with a darker grey woolly down. The male continues to do most of the hunting and the female watches over the nest and feeds the young. You'll notice the remarkable difference in size of the three eaglets. The oldest is the largest having the benefit of a few days without any siblings to compete with. This early advantage allows this eaglet to command more of his parent's attention (and push his siblings out of the way) and get a larger share of the food. In the photo the three have arranged themselves by age (oldest on the right).

Despite this size difference all three eaglets seem to be doing well, with the parents providing enough food to go around. The female spends more time away from the nest now. In early days following hatching the eaglets had a very limited ability to control their own body temperature (thermoregulate). Because of this the female would "brood" them, keeping them warm during cold periods and/or shading them during warm spells. The young have now developed the physiological mechanisms they need to thermoregulate on their own. During warm weather you'll notice the birds panting to help cool down.

The birds spend a lot of time resting. The rapid growth they're going through consumes a lot of energy. The eaglets are slowly becoming more mobile, although they are still fairly awkward on their feet.