Nest notes 5/31/16

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5/31/16 – The Harmar eagles lessons in feeding continues. First, the Harmar adult makes a ‘food-drop‘, bringing food to the nest and letting the eaglets take it from there. The eaglet ate it so fast that I missed it somehow, thinking they were waiting for the adult to open the food for them. The second eaglet missed that meal, but gets fed later, twice! Today’s feeding included a new technique, the female holds down the food and feeds one eaglet, while the other eaglet tears bites from the other end of the food item! (part 1, part 2)

Harmar eaglets watch off nest on 5/31/16
Harmar eaglets watch off nest on 5/31/16
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Nest notes 5/27/16

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5/27/16 – Wildlife cams allow a unique opportunity for us to get an intimate look into the lives of nesting birds, or denning mammals, or even schooling fish! We not only have the opportunity to watch and learn about the animals we see on cam, but sometimes there are moderators or chatters on site offering information and answering questions. Other cams have blog pages to follow. Some people are even inspired to research their own questions!

And, we can learn not only about the animal we are watching, but we also learn about the animals they interact with! For example, when I was young, I used to think Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) were rare, but they were never endangered, so they must have been there all along, and I just rarely saw one. However, when I was at the Hays trail last year and this year I have seen them, and I see them on the Harmar nest cam! Yes, Baltimore Orioles frequent the eagle’s nest tree. What are they doing there? Eating! The orioles are eating the seeds of the sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis).

Baltimore Oriole visits Harmar eagle's sycamore tree 5/18/16
Baltimore Oriole visits Harmar eagle’s sycamore tree 5/18/16

The sycamore fruit is actually a cluster of achenes, which means each seed is borne inside a single stalk which has hairs that aid in wind dispersal. Many, many of these seed stalks are packed tightly together to make the seed ball (monkey ball or buttonball). Other examples of plants that have fruit that are clusters of achenes which you might be more familiar with are daisies (Asteraceae) and dandelions (Taraxacum).

Baltimore Oriole visits Harmar eagle's sycamore tree 5/19/16
Baltimore Oriole visits Harmar eagle’s sycamore tree 5/19/16

In the case of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) scrape, watching these nest cams can teach you something about what other kinds of birds may be in the area. For example, we have seen Terzo bring food to the Cathedral of Learning that we could identify. Image courtesy of The National Aviary and Wild Earth.

Terzo brings a goldfinch for C1 on 5/20/16
Terzo brings a goldfinch for C1 on 5/20/16

And many of us have commented on the variety of birds and other animals we see or hear on nest cams. For example, if you want to hear a wide variety of unique bird calls, try the Sydney Sea Eagle Cam (Haliaeetus leucogaster), they are making nestorations and should be laying eggs soon.

Several of us also enjoy listening to the bird calls on the Hanover nest cam, despite the lack of eagle activity after their earlier loss this season. One chatter had been particularly bothered by a bird call she was hearing, but unable to identify. I hope I have an answer for her, based on how she described what she was hearing (loud, musical calls). After listening for a few days, I kept hearing one loud call in particular and I captured both the picture and video with sound, which led me to identify an Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens) that had been showing up in the nest to scrounge through the materials and do his calling. So, NorCa, was this your mystery bird? Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business.

Acadian Flycatcher at Hanover eagle's nest 5/26/16
Acadian Flycatcher at Hanover eagle’s nest 5/26/16

Nest notes 5/26/16

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5/26/16 – Well, right on cue, the Harmar eaglets have begun self-feeding! The Harmar female began the lessons in feeding by bringing a live fish to the nest to show the eaglets how to ‘open’ prey. They had been making some attempts at picking at food, but now they have really begun to feed themselves! The adults will continue to supplement their feeding and here they both arrive on the nest together to contribute to the feeding. Don’t worry though, the female eagle is not done caring for her eaglets yet, here she pulls out the mombrella to protect them from the rain.

Harmar eaglet is now this big! 5/25/16
Harmar eaglet is now this big! 5/25/16

 

Nest notes 5/23/16

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5/23/16 – The Harmar eaglets have been doing much more standing on their toes lately, and their balance is improving! This is important because they have to be able to balance while standing on food and pulling it to tear it apart. Obviously, learning how to open prey and feed is vitally important. We should be seeing attempts at self-feeding beginning, even though it will take a while to master this skill.

Harmar eaglet standing on toes 2/20/16
Harmar eaglet standing on toes 2/20/16

Nest notes 5/21/16

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5/21/16 – The eaglets just keep growing and developing! They have been eating bigger and bigger chunks of food too, and if you are watching closely you never know what you will see on cam (for example, a puppy running on the bank of twelve-mile island!). The female continues to dominate at meal-time, of course!

Harmar eaglet getting big! 5/19/16
Harmar eaglet getting big! 5/19/16

It is hard to take the eaglets seriously when you see the poof-ball of down they are still sporting on the top of their heads!

Harmar eaglet sporting a crown of down! 5/19/16
Harmar eaglet sporting a crown of down! 5/19/16

 

Special Notice: Harmar Bald Eagles pulling for Penguins!

 

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5/18/16 – On the Harmar eagles chat page we have long said we also support Pittsburgh’s ‘other’ large dark brown or black bird with white and gold markings, the ‘ice birds’, or the Pittsburgh Penguins! Pittsburgh is the only place on the planet where Bald Eagles and Penguins co-exist but while the bald eagle population continues to grow and expand into new territory, the Penguins remain firmly housed in the Consol Energy Center. So from the Harmar Eagles to the Pittsburgh Penguins:

Harmar eagles support the Pittsburgh Penguins!
Harmar eagles support the Pittsburgh Penguins!

 

Nest notes 5/17/16

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5/17/16 – The Harmar eaglets are still doing well. We will begin to see the eaglets dark contour feathers coming in, and the next major developmental milestone for them is to begin self-feeding (which is due to start in a week or so). We can expect to see the eaglets standing up on their toes more and playing with sticks and nestovers. They will have to learn how to balance properly while holding food down with their feet and tearing at it with their mouth. Oh yeah, and there will be more wingercising too!

Harmar nest-beautiful afternoon 5/16/16
Harmar nest-beautiful afternoon 5/16/16

Nest notes – 5/12/16

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5/12/16 – Hr 2 is now 4 weeks old, with Hr 3 just 3 days behind, it is hard to believe that C1, the peregrine falcon chick at the Cathedral of Learning, is now 13 days old and at roughly the same stage of development as the bald eagle chicks! They all are wearing secondary down and beginning to get their pin feathers in, they don’t need to be brooded as often and are becoming more mobile and exploring their environment (falcon, eaglets). And they are all eating a lot of food (falcon1, falcon2, eaglets1, eaglets2)! Bald eagle chicks take roughly 11 weeks or more to fledge, while peregrine falcon chicks fledge at roughly 6 weeks, so C1 is expected to fledge 2-3 weeks before the Harmar eaglets.

Harmar female stands tall over Hr 2 and Hr 3 5:12:16
Harmar female stands tall over Hr 2 and Hr 3-5/12/16

 

Nest notes 5/10/16

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5/10/16 – The Harmar eaglets are just starting to test out their wings, as seen in the picture below and this short clip from yesterday. Speaking of yesterday…. Many yesterdays ago, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were lots feathered dinosaurs running around, many more than the scaly dinosaurs many of us grew up imagining. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great page with a cool dino video here!

Harmar eaglet tries out its wings 5/9/16
Harmar eaglet tries out its wings 5/9/16