May 29, 2006

Eagle News

nightfamily.jpgNest Update: Well, since the 2005-2006 eagle season has had a bit of everything, it only seems fitting that just as our cam reception improved, Murphy's Law decided it was a good time to have one of the birds move the cam for us. We are now looking out into the woods more. The upside is that now maybe we can see one of the eaglets coming in for a landing.

Speaking of the camera reception, it has cleared up a bit on its own recently. We had an engineer out to look at our reception problem late last week, but the engineer was stumped as to what was wrong. Right now we believe it might be a problem in the power line that runs near the nest. If there is a cracked insulator, loose wire, loose hardware etc. at the power line, it could be emitting intermittent noise that is interfering with our reception. We're currently investigating the power line theory.

When our cam did clear up, we got some nice images of both eaglets and probably the mother eagle at the nest. It was clear from the shots that the parents are still providing food to the eaglets. This is normal, as it will take awhile for the eaglets to get proficient at catching their own meals. We're happy to see that both eaglets appear to be healthy.

And just a couple extra cam notes: The Fort St. Vrain Eagle Cam in Colorado has three eaglets that are about to fledge. You can see the cam here. And here you can see photos of the eaglets when they were on the ground getting banded.

And also be sure to check out the impressive Eagle Eye Cam from Canada that has been capturing headlines with its wonderful video and audio presentation.

Also, I wanted to pass along some miscellaneous eagle news:

First, the sad news. Doug Bentlage from Alton, Illinois, wrote to say that they found out what happened to the eaglet that died in their local nest. As our cam watchers may remember, I had been publishing photos of their eaglet in this web log, and the last we heard was that the eight-week-old eaglet had suddenly been found dead at the bottom of the nest tree about two weeks ago.

The local photographers have just found out that a raccoon climbed into the nest and killed the eaglet. The raccoon got into the nest and killed the chick quickly, then an eagle parent came back and attacked the raccoon, and then grabbed the eaglet -- which was already dead -- and dropped it as it tried to leave the nest. The raccoon went over the front of the nest and then down to the ground. One photographer, named Tim Berkley, happened to be on the scene when it happened, but could only grab a quick shot in the fading light. Photographer Wade Dowdy (from Aesthetic Photos) worked on the photograph to make it clearer, and you can see the photo here. The raccoon is fleeing and the parent is flying away with the dead eaglet under its body. This was a very popular nest in Illinois, and many people were saddened by the loss of the eaglet, but at least we now know what happened.

One other piece of sad news: As we had mentioned a little while back, officials in Vermont -- which had been the only state without a breeding pair of bald eagles -- had discovered an eagles' nest with one chick near the Connecticut River. We now hear that the chick has died. A wildlife biologist discovered that the chick was gone, and they found evidence at the base of the tree that a raccoon had been feeding on a dead eaglet, although they're not sure if the raccoon killed the eaglet or if it was just feeding on the carcass. Local officials are hopeful that the eagle couple will return next year and try again. You can read more on the Vermont Bald Eagle Restoration Initiative website.

Just an FYI: Raccoons are a threat not only to eagle nests but also to osprey nests. That's why our Blackwater Osprey Cam platform is so high in the air -- so the ospreys will feel safe from land predators like raccoons. If you are building an osprey platform on land, it is very important to put a predator guard on it to reduce the chance that a raccoon can climb up and get to the eggs or chicks.

And now for the good news: For those who did not see my post on the cam page last week, George and Martha (the Woodrow Wilson Bridge eagles) have been reunited. Martha was attacked by a female eagle at her home nest in Maryland and had to be rehabilitated due to her very serious wounds. She was released in Delaware, and now the couple is together again at their nest in Maryland. TriState Bird Rescue was responsible for saving Martha. Visit their site for more information on Martha's release.

Also, we had another interesting local story about two young eaglets in Virginia that were saved after their tree and nest were blown down by a storm. You can read the article and see their photo on the Washington Post website.

Until next time,
Lisa - webmaster

Posted by Webmaster at May 29, 2006 07:10 PM