VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006

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!

Friday, May 26, 2006

“Stretching Their Wings”

Now 10 weeks old, the eaglets are getting closer to leaving the nest. We anticipate that this will happen sometime in the first few days of June, so be on the lookout! The eaglets continue to exercise their wings in preparation for the big event, as in the photo still below taken from the EagleCam. Flapping their wings across the nest and to adjacent limbs allows the eaglets to develop muscle strength, flight coordination and landing ability as they prepare for their first flight from the nest. If you are following the EagleCam, you can also expect to begin noticing the eaglets spending time out of the nest, sitting in the branches of the tree. This behavior, known as “branching”, is also a natural lead-up to fledging from the nest. Once the eaglets fledge, you may not have seen the last of them! The juveniles will remain in the general area for several weeks, perfecting their flight and foraging skills, and will likely continue to use the nest as a feeding platform for some portion of this period.

Eaglet stretching its wings on May 24, 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

“Sharing a Meal”

In the photographs below, taken from the EagleCam on May 6 and May 8, one of the adult eagles has brought a fish to feed its hungry brood. The first thing you will probably notice is how much more similar in size the eaglets are to their parent. Now at approximately 8 weeks of age, the juvenile eaglets have reached roughly 75% of their full size, and in the next few weeks will come to actually weigh more than the adult. At this stage, the juveniles are also developing thicker and longer plumage than the adults, although their tail feathers are still stubby. Their plumage development will continue for several more weeks and probably even after they have left the nest. The process of taking their maiden flight from the nest is known as fledging, and on average occurs at 12 weeks of age. But preparation for this significant event has already begun. Behaviorally, you may have noticed a lot more activity on the eaglets’ part: they are moving around the nest a lot more, and flapping their wings and lifting off the nest a foot or more as they begin to stretch and test their wings.

Parent feeding eaglets on May 6, 2006

Parent feeding eaglets on May 8, 2006