VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008

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!

Monday, March 31, 2008

“Chilly Weekend”


The Norfolk eagles continue to incubate the remaining egg of the second clutch. No further eggs will be forthcoming. This egg was the third egg of the second clutch. A three egg clutch is remarkable and a fourth is an extremely rare occurrence.

Over the weekend the parents had to deal with a bit of sleet and snow as our temperatures went from 81 degrees F on Friday to 42 deg. F on Sunday. The eagles were able to deal with the changing temperatures and keep the egg incubated.

We have noticed a few disturbances at the nest with both the male and female reacting to something off camera. With both Great Horned Owls and juvenile eagles in the vicinity it's hard to know what might be getting their attention. The following video supplied by the Norfolk Botanical Garden shows a recent evening happening, The white flash seen towards the end of the video is the male eagle flying in. Despite these visitations the eagles continue to care for the egg and all is proceeding as it should.

Monday, March 24, 2008

“Good News at Norfolk”

After losing both eggs last week, the bald eagles at the Norfolk Botanical Garden laid another egg at about 12:22pm on March 22nd. We'll wait and see if any other eggs may be forthcoming. This egg represents what would have been the third egg of the second clutch. Whether or not the female has the physical reserves to produce another egg this week remains to be seen. Given the challenges that this pair has faced, this egg is very good news.

Friday, March 21, 2008


After reviewing more footage from March 20th, it appears that there was a second egg. The female appears to be eating an egg at 7 am and then again at 4:34 pm. It appears that both eggs have been lost. Footage captured at about 6:22am showed that both eagles were at the nest and extremely agitated, apparently responding to something directly above them. At this point the female leapt to her feet, without her usual caution - it's likely that this event resulted in the eggs being broken.

The eagles haven't given up on though. They were observed breeding at at 7:34pm

Thursday, March 20, 2008

“Lost Egg”

It unfortunately appears that we have indeed lost at least one of the eagle eggs at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. At about 4:34pm the Female was noted consuming an egg in the nest.

Behavior such as this likely indicates that something had occurred to the egg rendering it obviously unviable. There has been speculation that a particularly hard landing in the nest last night might have damaged the egg. This is a possibility, but again only speculation.

The egg eating behavior serves to recapture the valuable calories and calcium that went into creation of the egg. Egg formation is an energetically demanding process. We still have no confirmation of the second egg we were hoping had been laid. We will watch and hope for another egg. Although there is still time we are approaching the limit of typical laying period for bald eagles in Virginia.

“2nd Egg?”

Yesterday (March 19th) the Norfolk eagles apparently laid a second egg. Apparently is the operative word. This is based solely on the posture and behavior of the female. We've been fooled before - we had assumed the first clutch contained three eggs, not until the eggs were retrieved did we learn we'd been fooled.

The eggs haven't been incubated much today - sparking much concern over the egg's viability. At this early stage continual incubation isn't necessary. If another egg is forthcoming, this may actually ensure that all of the eggs hatch closer together by slowing development of the embryos. The eggs are able to withstand some much hasn't been quantified. Temps today are around 56 F in Norfolk, and the sun has been shining on the nest. We have to assume that these eagles know their business and not leap to unfortunate conclusions.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

“Second Clutch”

Today (Sunday March 16th) at about 2:21pm the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles laid the 1st egg of a second clutch.

The egg was not continually incubated through the day. This is not a matter for any great concern at this point. The eggs are hardy to a point and although a bit cool in Norfolk today (Mean Temp of 50 F ) it was by no means a frigid day.

Something had the adult's interest, quite possibly the squirrels nesting just downstairs. They've been active and the eagles are likely responding to to this noise. While gray squirrels are common predators of songbird eggs, eagle eggs are much thicker and would by no means present an easy meal (especially with adult eagle close at hand).

Some have started to question the identity of the male eagle - claiming he "looks different". Some aggression and or reluctance between mates during nest exchange is not uncommon In reviewing many images from today and previous days - nothing was noted that would call into question the identity of the male. With the amount of intra-eagle interactions at this nest
concern is certainly understandable.
Now we'll wait and see if a second egg will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

“More Eagles”

We witnessed yet another visit to the nest by a juvenile Bald Eagle today. A young bird landed in and around the nest tree around 11 this morning. This bird is transitioning into its 4th year plumage. You'll note the dark eye band typical of a third year bird, but with more white on the head.

This bird perched above the resident female and for a short time even landed in the nest. The juvenile has since left the immediate area, and both resident adults have been seen together in and around the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Prior to this the residents were noted bringing large sticks into the nest and have added some fresh green pine needles. A total of four mating bouts were seen yesterday (both on & off camera) so the pair is trying. We'll have to wait and see if these efforts will result in a second clutch.

“Technical Difficulties”

We are aware of the camera outage and IT staff are working to fix it. Camera operators are still able to log into the cam locally, and we will provide updates of any notable activity.

Monday, March 10, 2008

“....And Waiting”

The adult eagles continue to mate and work on the nest. Mating was observed both Sunday and Monday mornings. Both adults have been spending time in and around the nest site, and are both adding sticks and re-arranging the nest. They've also added some fresh green pine needles. All of this behavior keeps us hoping that a second clutch will be forthcoming.

Friday, March 07, 2008

“Still Waiting”

We're still watching as we wait to see if this pair will produce a second clutch of eggs. Bald Eagles are known to replace egg when removed from the nest. Given that a good deal of time had passed between the laying of the first clutch and their eventual removal, the Eagles phsyiology (egg & sperm production) may have required a bit of time to reset into a breeding mode. The adults continue to breed (at least as recently as March 2nd) and refurbish the nest.

Egg production demands lots of energy, although the food supply seems to be plentiful. In the picture below note the female's full crop (temporary food holding pouch in the throat) and the bit of fish in her talons. This is the remains of a fish that she stole from an Osprey in mid-air.

Bald Eagles have been recorded laying eggs into the 1st week of April in Virginia, so we still have 3 weeks or so for this pair to produce a second clutch