VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007

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!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The eaglets continue to make progress towards fledging. These young birds are spending more and more time on the tree limbs around the nest - a process called "branching out". The eagles are continuing to practice flying - gaining the strength, skill and coordination needed to launch their first true flight. It's not just flying that these young eagles must master - the art of landing safely is just as important.

We really have no way to predict exactly when each eaglet will "launch". Keep watching with us as we anticipate the first flight of the Norfolk Botanical Garden eagles!

Monday, May 21, 2007

“Am I Flying Yet?”

The Eaglets at the Norfolk Botanical Garden continue to grow. The three young eagles have replaced their downy feathers with their brown juvenile plumage, including their flight feathers. These eaglets won’t attain the emblematic white head and tail of an adult eagle until they are 4 or 5 years old. Feather development won't be complete until after they fledge and the eaglets may actually continue to gain weight.

The eaglets are much more active in the nest now, and have begun to test their wings, catching breezes and getting the feel for what flying will be like. Watching the nest this morning the eaglets practiced in turn, taking advantage of a breezy day. At times the eaglets glided several feet over the nest. They’ll begin to make short hopping glides to adjacent branches, gaining coordination and strength in their flight muscles. Sometime around Memorial Day we expect that these eaglets will start fledging. They’ll stay in the vicinity for a few weeks and may often return to the nest. The immature birds will follow their parents – who may continue to be fed by them. Young eagles learn to hunt on their own, and will subsist largely on scavenged fish until they gain the skills necessary to catch live prey.

Monday, May 07, 2007

“Testing Their Wings”

The high winds over the last two days had the eaglets hunkered down low in the nest. Observers reported a dizzying experience trying to keep tabs on the birds as the nest tossed to and fro in the wind.

The wind didn't prevent at least one of the eaglets from stretching their wings. Young raptors can use the wind to experience lift with their wings. This is an important step in learning to fly, allowing the birds to learn how to control themselves by flexing and altering the shape of their wings. Playing with the wind allows them to begin to do this, while over the "safety net" of the nest.

Friday, May 04, 2007

“Not Babies Anymore”

The three eaglets aren't babies anymore. These eaglets are essentially as large as their parents at this point. It's not uncommon for juvenile birds to actually outweigh their parents by the time they fledge.
Their juvenile plumage has replaced their down and the eaglets are much more coordinated and able to get around the nest. The parent continue to bring ample food to the nest and the eaglets now feed themselves (although they'll still beg from their parents).

In the coming weeks the eaglets will begin to test their wings, strengthening their muscles and learning the skills for their first flight.