Friday, May 13, 2016

Family visitors

Two-year-old bald eagles visit the nest.
There have been a variety of visitors to our nesting pair's nest, that I believe are extended family members - perhaps kids from past years. Eagles make a very distinctive sound when they are with their mates and other family members. I describe it like a chortle. They also make a very distinctive sound to warn other birds away. And, sometimes, that's their kids from a prior nesting. A lot depends on what stage the babies are in. If they've hatched and the babies are close to full size, there's less risk that another predator (even an older sibling) will pick off a newly hatched baby.

Adult bald eagle accompanied the two-year-olds.

The visitors last week were two juvenile eagles, about two years old, and two adult eagles. Are they children and grandchildren or all children from earlier nesting. This pair has been nesting in this area for at least 10 years, according to homeowners adjacent to the nesting area. Adult bald eagles get their white heads and tails when they're about four years old. That's also when they seek a mate.

Mama talked to the youngsters from the nest and papa greeted all from a nearby tree.
I'm regularly adding new images to my Nesting Bald Eagles album on Flickr.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Taking turns

One parent tends to the kids while the other makes sure
they are safe.
Either mama or papa are present in the nest at all times. I still can't see any eaglets but this nest is really obscured. Both parents guard from the side where I'm photographing, then enter the nest from the far side of the tree.

Keeping watch can be from the branch above the nest or from one of the trees on either side. There have also been visitors that they have welcomed with their characteristic chortling sound they reserve for kinfolk. Everything I've learned about bald eagles from books and articles tells me that a nesting pair won't let other raptors within a mile of their nest. I'm beginning to think that there are a lot of things we don't know about eagles because we nearly lost them in the 1960s and 1970s to DDT and other human-caused sources.

Two youngsters, about two years old, fly
along the ridge about 2 blocks from the nest.
This pair regularly welcomes adults and juvenile eagles - I assume they are earlier children or maybe siblings. They've been nesting here for more than 12 years, so at least seven of those former children are adults now. Bald eagles don't get their characteristic white heads and tails until they are mature at 4-5 years old. That's also when they look for a mate and begin nesting.

Nesting is an integral part of eagle life. One of the keepers at Northwest Trek told me that the golden eagles and bald eagles who live at Trek regularly engage in nesting activity, even though they are the same gender. So they are supplied with plenty of nesting material.

More on visitors to the nest in my next post. Meanwhile, I have begun posting many more photographs in my Nesting Eagles album on Flickr.

Entry to the nest is on the far side of the tree.