“Birds of a Feather”
The eaglets at the Norfolk Botanical Garden are growing rapidly. At this point in their development they may add as much as 130 grams (roughly 4.5 ounces) in weight per day! Keep in mind that when they hatched these chicks weighed only about 2.5 to 3 ounces (71-85 grams).
In addition to adding mass these chicks are also adding feathers. We can begin to see brown feathers growing in on the nestlings' bodies. These are the feathers that these chicks will eventually leave the nest with. The feathers that cover the body are referred to as contour feathers, these are important for both waterproofing and insulation. The flight feathers (feathers of the wing and tail) are emerging as well. As the feathers grow from the body they are covered with a feather sheath that will eventually split open. You'll notice that the three chicks are all in different stages of molting (growing in new feathers). The degree of feather growth doesn't necessarily indicate age in bald eagles as male nestlings tend to grow feathers more rapidly.