April 26, 2006

Contest Results

award.gifWe want to thank everyone who participated in our 2006 Eaglet-Naming Contest. In case you didn't see the announcement, Nause and Waiwash (pronounced nah-soo and WAY-wash) were the winning names, although the vote was very close among several of the choices. The Nause-Waiwash Indian tribe is native to the Blackwater region, so we were proud to have these names used for our eaglets. You can read more about the tribe on the Announcement page.

We chose a prize winner from all the participants' email addresses, so that everyone would have a fair shot at winning, and our winner was Jess M., a soon-to-be 10-year-old from West Virginia. Jess will be celebrating a birthday on April 30, so we were very happy to be able to provide a Blackwater birthday gift. :-)

Jess recently visited Blackwater Refuge and after returning home, chose the names Chinook and Zephyr for our eaglets. Those names were very popular with many other contest participants, and they almost won.

We thank Jess and all our contest participants for helping us select the names of the eaglets. And we hope our cam watchers will stick around and help us name the osprey chicks in a couple months.

Nest Update

flapping12.jpgAs our cam watchers know, at the beginning of the week we had a slight technical problem. We think we had a corroded connector, and it was interfering with the image transmission. Keeping our cam equipment operating in the field is always a challenge because of the harsh conditions -- such as the huge amount of rain we received last weekend. We're just glad that our recent problem was ground-based and was not with the eagle camera itself.

The eaglets continue to make good progress with their flapping exercises and perching practice. Several cam watchers have asked if the eaglets will take their first flight around the same time. Since Nause is the oldest, and has been ahead in development throughout the eaglets' time at the nest, we would expect Nause to fly first. Waiwash -- the youngest -- has not been perching quite as much, so it might take a little longer for the youngest to make the leap.

However, it's likely that seeing Nause fly off and leave the nest will provide strong motivation for the youngest to get out there and fly as well.

Other Eagles

A couple interesting notes about eagles besides our own: Around the Channel Islands off California, folks are very excited these days because bald eagles are finally beginning to make a comeback. From the 1940s to the 1970s, millions of pounds of DDT and PCBs were discharged from industrial sources into the ocean near Los Angeles. In 1972, Congress banned the use of DDT but not its production. Bald eagle populations then rebounded across the U.S. except in the Southern California area.

DDT is a problem for fish-eating raptors because the fish become contaminated with the pesticide, and after an eagle or osprey eats a large enough amount of fish, the pesticide accumulates in the raptor's system -- a process known as biomagnification.

Once a bald eagle or osprey has enough DDT in its system, the pesticide's breakdown product -- DDE -- begins to inhibit the production of calcium for the bird's eggshells, and the eggshells come out too thin. The end result is often an eggshell so thin that it cracks when the parents sit on it, ending the life of the chick inside.

In mid-April of this year, biologists discovered that on Santa Cruz Island (part of the Channel Islands), a pair of bald eagles hatched a chick for the first time in more than fifty years. Not long after, the biologists found a second egg on the island, so hopes are high that the eagles might be making a comeback after all this time. On the Channel Islands' eagle website, you can see video clips of one of the chicks with its parents.

Also on the Channel Islands' eagle website is an excellent photo of an eaglet about a week younger than our own eaglets. Seeing the eaglet next to a human gives our cam watchers a good perspective on how big our eaglets are now.

And on another eagle note: Jerry McKenna -- our photographer friend from Illinois -- is still following his local eagle nest where they have one young chick. Jerry recently added several funny new photos to his online gallery. I especially like the shots below; click on the thumbnails to see a larger version. And much thanks again to Jerry for sharing these spectacular photos with us:

gmeagle1 gmeagle2
gmeagle3 gmeagle4

In an upcoming log post, we'll talk about the current effort underway to remove the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List, and how you can submit your comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding this major change in the bald eagle's protection.

Until next time,
Lisa - webmaster

Posted by Webmaster at April 26, 2006 06:36 PM