VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010

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!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

“Update on Eagle at the Wildlife Center of Virginia”

The following is from an announcement forwarded by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. As our veiwers may recall, in 2008 the DGIF Wildlife Veterninarian removed the lone eaglet from this nest due to a large and potentially life-threatening Avian Pox lesion. DGIF staff then transported the bird to the WCV for care. (photo courtesy of the Wildlife Center of Virginia)

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation’s leading teaching and research hospital for wild animals, today announced that the Norfolk Botanical Garden Bald Eagle – admitted to the Center as a patient in May 2008 and an international “celebrity” – will become a permanent resident at the Center.

The Bald Eagle will become a member of the Center’s corps of non-releasable education animals, which includes hawks, owls, snakes, turtles, and opossums. In additional to being seen by visitors to the Wildlife Center, many of these animals travel with Center staff and take part in environmental education programs in elementary school classrooms and auditoriums and at libraries, county fairs, and other venues.

The announcement comes on the eagle’s second birthday – the eagle hatched from his egg in a nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden on April 27, 2008.
The Center only gives names to those animals that are permanent residents. To date, the eagle has been known at the Center as #08-0887, his patient number. Now that he will be permanant resident he has been dubbed "Buddy" a name long used by many online fans of this bird.

Future plans for buddy inclkude new enclosure and possibly a webcam. Members of the Center’s rehabilitation staff started training Buddy in February 2010. The goal is to train the bird to sit calmly on a handler’s gloved hand, so that Buddy can be taken to programs and presentations off-site. The training process often takes many months of hard work – for both the eagle and the handlers.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

“Update Regarding Banding/Transmitter”

The banding of eagles and use of satellite telemetry provides important information about how bald eagles migrate and utilize their environment. The need to gather this information is always balanced by researchers against the level of disturbance such activities entail. To ensure that the well-being of the eagles is the paramount concern, some changes are being made to the banding and transmitter installation procedure scheduled for May 5th. You'll notice far fewer people behind the barricades. Personnel will be limited to the minimum necessary to properly carry out the work. The work will be carried out as quickly as possible, and the birds returned directly to the nest.

Given the level of interest and the increase in the crowd that has attended these events, the exclusion barriers may be temporarily extended outward to help minimize any disturbance to the birds. Every attempt will be made to fully document the entire procedure, and the eagle cam will remain on and provide coverage of the event. All project partners are working together to ensure that the viewing public has an excellent opportunity to see this scientific endeavor. The webcam and other media will provide the best opportunity to view and understand the procedure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

“Standing on Their own Two Feet”

The eaglets have begun standing on their feet. This is an important developmental step for them. It indicates that they are growing stronger and more coordinated. Being able to stand also makes it possible for the eaglets to begin feeding themselves. In order to tear their food, the chicks need to be able to hold it down by standing on it. We will continue to see the adults help with feeding as as the young birds learn this new skill.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

“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.