VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009

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, June 22, 2009


All three of the juvenile eagles continue to return to the nest. This morning all three were perched in and around the nest site, with the youngest (female "HE") enjyoing a meal courtsey of the parents who continue to provide for their fledglings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

“Azalea Returns”

Azalea finally made her return to the nest yesterday afternoon. In a clear indication that these young birds are beginning to see each other as competitors, there were some somewhat antagonistic interactions between the siblings. When Azalea first returned she engaged her sister (HE) and both tumbled from the nest this was captured by an Eagle Cam viewer Both eagles were fine.

This was followed shortly after by a prolonged scuffle between the two females . Following her prolonged absence from the nest (3 days) Azalea needed to reestablish herself with her siblings. As these birds become increasingly independent their tolerance for sharing extremely close quarters with each other may decrease.

Shortly before 7pm one of the adults which Azalea claimed and ate.

The first map from Azalea's satellite has been posted by CCB. It shows that Azalea remained in the vicinity of the nest (generally within about 600 feet) but moved about quite frequently. The satellite transmits Azalea's position once an hour so the map doesn't form complete diary of her whereabouts. It does provide a good summary of her movements throughout the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Too see the map go to

Monday, June 15, 2009

“Empty Nest”

This morning we saw an empty nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. All three of the young eaglets were exploring the area around the nest, gaining valuable skills they'll need as they eventually disperse and leave the nest area. The oldest of the juvenile eagles (male -band HK) has since returned to perch on a branch adjacent to the nest (hoping for a fish from the adults perhaps?)

We expect to see the young birds return to the nest for feeding over the next few weeks and they may remain in the vicinity for up to 10 weeks. We will continue to monitor the camera and post updates.

This year marks another extraordinary success for this pair - again successfully fledging three young eagles. As we saw last year - with several eggs lost and one young bird transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for care of an avian pox infection - bald eagles face continuing challenges as we look to continue the recovery of this impressive bird.

For those who haven't had enough of the amazing raptors of the Commonwealth - you can view Falcon Cam - which highlights nesting pergrine falcons atop Riverfront Plaza in Richmond at These birds are incubating four eggs and we expect to see them hatch by late June/early July.
For updates on the eagle at the Wildlife Center of Virginia check:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

“Azalea Has Fledged”

The last of the three eaglets at the Norfolk Botanical Garden has fledged! Yesterday morning she was quite active hopping back and forth from the nest to nearby branches. At 6:51 am she finally made her leap, taking her first flight. Later that morning Azalea was found perched in a loblolly pine tree. She has been seen moving about in the Garden by observers and staff. We expect to see her return to the nest in the near future.

Young eagles remain in the nest are a and will associate with their parents and siblings for 4-10 weeks following fledging. During this time the young birds complete their development and begin to acquire the necessary skills to live independently. The nest will continue to be used a roost and feeding platform.

Once Azalea leaves the nest area we'll be able to track her movements with the satellite transmitter she wears. This will provide important information as to where young birds disperse and how they utilize available habitats.

Friday, June 12, 2009

“Azalea still in nest”

The eaglet "Azalea" remains in the nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Both her older and younger sibling have fledged but continue to return to the nest to rest or feed. She is very active in and around the nest, and physically seems prepared to fledge. All that remains is for her to decide to make her leap.

The adults brought a pigeon to the nest yesterday which Azalea promptly claimed. She appeared unsure of what to do with it, however. These eaglets are used to fish as their primary food and although they have had bird before - they were fed to them by the adults. After a time eaglet HE (youngest female) finally hopped into the nest and took the pigeon for herself - consuming nearly the entire bird

Monday, June 08, 2009

“2nd Eaglet Fledges”

The youngest eaglet (band HE) of the trio fledged this afternoon. The young female first flew to a branch near the nest before finally stretching her wings and taking her first flight. The first to fledge (HK) has been returning to the nest regularly for feedings.

Azalea (band HH) the female eaglet who has been fitted with a transmitter, closely watched her siblings but has not as of yet taken her "leap". All three of the eaglets were in the nest as night fell today.

“Camera Outage”

The currently outage is due to computer hardware issues. Norfolk Botanical Garden staff are aware of the issue and working to correct it. As soon as any more specific information is available we will provide an update

Friday, June 05, 2009

“Getting Around”

The male that fledged (band HK) is getting the hand of flying. He has been reported in the vicnity of the nest tree and has been seen soaring briefly by observers. This all indicates that he continues to improve his newfound ability. We have not seen the male return to the nest to be fed but it is quite possible that he has been fed away from the nest by the adults.

The camera is back up and we'll continue to watch the two young females as they get closer to fleding and we'll keep a sharp eye out for the male.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

“Testing His Wings”

The recently fledged eagle (band HK) continued to practice his flying today moving around the Garden and slowly moving back towards the nest tree. At times he was out of sight so it is unknown if he has been fed by the adults or not. At this point young eagles are busy converting stored fat into muscle and may not need to feed as frequently.

The current camera outage is related to an equipment failure. We are aware the issue and staff at the Norfolk Botanical Garden are working on the problem. We hope to have the camera back online as early as possible tomorrow. We will continue to post reports from personnel on-site

“HK Update”

The chick that fledged yesterday spent the day perched in an oak tree about 700 feet from the nest. His perch was approximately 20 ft up and afforded him good cover.

At approx. 10:20am HK flew again, alighting in a gum tree about 100 feet away from his previous perch. He is higher up now (approx. 50 ft) and has a better general vantage point of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

“Fallen Eaglet Returned to Nest - Oldest Eaglet Fledges”

The eaglet that fell from the nest yesterday (band HE) was returned to the nest this morning. This female was the youngest of the three and had not yet developed the flight muscles necessary to fly. On the ground the eaglet would have susceptible to predation and it would have difficulty getting fed by the parents. Given these challenges it was decided that returning HE to the nest was the best course of action.

Climbers from Nuckols Tree Care again donated their services to return the bird to the nest. Biologists from VDGIF and CCB were present and closely monitored the procedure. While HE had not done much practicing or exercising its siblings have been much more active. The oldest (band HK) has been especially active, and it was not surprising when this bird fledged from the nest in light of the activity around the nest. HK's first flight was smooth and after several strong wing beats he soared to a tree approximately 700 ft away from the nest.

We expect HK to return to the nest to feed and to remain in the area for some time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

“Inadvertent Fledging”

Just before 6 pm this evening (June 2nd) Eaglet HE - the youngest of the three was hop-flying across the nest. This is typical behavior for young eagles and allows them to strengthen their flight muscles as they get closer to fledging. The eaglet overshot the rim of the nest slightly and dangled by its talons for a short time before releasing and dropping from the nest

Garden visitors watched the young eagle spread its wings and glide a short distance away from the nest. Biologists with CCB and VDGIF responded along with Norfolk Botanical Garden personnel. CCB & NBG staff were able to capture the young bird without incident. The bird is unharmed.

VDGIF & CCB biologists will return the bird to the nest tomorrow morning. Nuckols Tree Care will again volunteer their services to assist us. If all goes according to plan the bird will remain in the nest for a week or more - gaining the strength it needs to successfully take its first flight.


Monday, June 01, 2009

“Spider Webs”

Eagle Cam viewers have noticed that a spider has taken up residence inside our camera dome. This is not an unusual problem with this type of outdoor camera unit. Much of the accumulated web was cleared by moving the camera through its full range of motion, tearing the web away from the lens. Unfortunately one corner of the camera remains obscured.

We expect the young bird to fledge in a little under two weeks (although this is simply a best guess). This makes any disturbance at the nest site problematic at this point as it might cause the young birds to fledge prematurely. The camera tree is adjacent to the nest tree and accessing the camera requires a climber to ascend over 90 feet, a process that can take some time and create a prolonged disturbance. While we always wish to provide a quality wildlife viewing experience the well being of the eagle is always our primary concern.

We are still able to see a majority of what's happening in the nest and will still be able to watch the eaglets as they develop flight muscle and practice hopping across the nest and from branch to branch.