March 28, 2006

Eagle Feather Stages

faceshotNest Update: The weather forecast is calling for milder temperatures later this week, so Thursday morning, Craig Koppie plans to climb our cam tree to check on the family and recenter our camera. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather cooperates. :-)

Also, some folks might have noticed that our site was down for several hours last night. Our web host installed a security patch that unexpectedly brought their whole network to its knees, but the glitch seems to be fixed now.

I'll update the Gallery tomorrow, but I wanted to point out a set of photos I somehow missed when they were first sent in: the photos show the youngest pecking at a fish in the nest. This was exciting to see as it indicates the eaglets are starting to learn to feed themselves. The parents will continue to tear off food for the chicks for a while, but slowly the eaglets will begin trying to pull off meat, and it's just another sign that they are becoming more independent. Thanks to all those who sent in the shots.

And speaking of our rapidly growing eaglets, some cam watchers had asked when they will eventually develop the coloring of their parents -- with the all-white head and tail. Young eagles will not develop the adult coloring until around 5-7 years of age. Sometimes it happens around 4 years of age, but it can be later, and it's always a gradual process rather than a sudden change.

Below are a series of photos illustrating how a bald eagle progresses from a fuzzy white chick to a fully grown white-headed raptor.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the photos. The photos will open in a separate web page because I left them extra large so you could see all the details:

eaglesr1 eaglesr2
eaglesr3 eaglesr4
eaglesr5 eaglesr6

In photo #1 we see two eaglets with their first coat of down right after their birth. In photo #2 we see an eaglet with its woollier second coat of down. In photo #3 we see an eaglet at the stage our chicks are at now -- with the dark feathers coming in and pushing out the down. In photo #4 we see one of the Maryland eaglets that was relocated to Vermont last year -- this bird was very close to fledging and had most of its feathers. In photo #5 we see a sub-adult eagle that is beginning to get its all-white head but still has an eye-stripe and mottled coloring on its body. And in photo #6 we see an adult bald eagle with the distinctive all-white head and tail.

Often a young bald eagle (photo #4) is mistaken for a golden eagle because of the young bird's size and coloring. You can read more about golden eagles on the Cornell All About Birds website.

And finally, we wanted to share another excellent eagle gallery link that one of our cam watchers sent in. Be sure to check out these amazing shots of what look like a very young mother bald eagle and her brood.

Until next time,
Lisa - webmaster
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Posted by Webmaster at March 28, 2006 08:52 AM