April 11, 2006

Other Eagles

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Cam watchers have been writing in to ask about the bald eagles at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge here in the Washington, DC area. As many know, an intruder female attacked the mother eagle -- named Martha -- which was sitting on eggs about to hatch at their nest near the bridge, and the injured mother was taken to a local raptor center for rehabilitation. One chick hatched, and the father, George, was trying to keep it warm and feed it by himself.

We hear today that George is no longer tending the nest and is starting to hang around with the intruder female. Sadly it appears the chick did not make it. Unfortunately, the chick never really caught a break in its short life with its mother being attacked and then with the horribly bad weather we had on Saturday -- with lots of rain and chilly temperatures. It would have been very hard for George to keep the chick dry and warm while also going out to retrieve food.

The good news is that Martha is recovering quickly. They hope to release her soon, although they are not sure where they will release her at this point. Releasing her in the same area might be inviting another attack, so the eagle experts will have to decide what is best for Martha. You can read more about George and the chick here, and more about Martha's recovery here.

Craig Koppie -- our eagle expert at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- has been helping with the evaluation of George, Martha, and the nest. Craig has also been busy with interviews for the news media, so we're not sure right now when he will be coming to our nest.

One cam watcher asked if we had to wait for Craig or if there was anyone else who could go up our nest tree. We could have our regular tree climber go up, but the best he could do is just move the cam. We are hoping that Craig will brace the camera so it doesn't get moved again this spring, and Craig also wants to band and possibly sex the chicks, so we'd like to give him that opportunity.

Our regular tree climber is not accustomed to encountering eaglets when he visits the nest, and Craig has been up countless raptor trees, so he is specially trained to deal with the youngsters, who are rather large now and could be quite formidable if agitated. We would really like to have Craig be the person who visits at this point.

Speaking of our chicks, the youngest has really progressed in its feather development, and seems to be almost as dark as the oldest. The chicks are seven weeks old this week, and each day they are getting stronger in their flapping and movement around the nest.

In upcoming web log posts, we'll talk more about what might be in store for our eaglets when they take their first flight into the world.

A couple reminders: We updated the Eagle Gallery yesterday -- much thanks to everyone who sent in photos. And we've started our Eaglet-Naming Contest, which is being hosted by our partner site, WildCam.com. You have to register to enter, but it's free and they won't share your email address. After the contest ends, we'll randomly select an email address from the participants, and that person will receive a special eagle gift from our Eagle's Nest Gift Store at the Refuge.

And finally, since we're a bit sad about George and Martha's eaglet not making it, I wanted to share some wonderful photos from our new photographer friend, Jerry McKenna. Jerry has been monitoring an eagle nest in Alton, Illinois, where they just had a chick hatch. Click on the thumbnails below to check out Jerry's photos showing the new chick -- which definitely puts a smile on your face. And you can see more photos of the new chick here.

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Until next time,
Lisa - webmaster
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Posted by Webmaster at April 11, 2006 08:28 AM