6/26/16 – For a day or two the chatters have been asking if the eaglets had branched and we could not see it, then last night a report came through the grapevine that someone in a boat could see the eaglet on a branch last night around 7:20pm. I watched the video several times but could not make out anything definitive. As you can see, the leaves now hide a portion on the right side of the nest.
However, this morning was different, with the eaglets finally providing me with an opportunity to record them both on and off the branch behind the leafy screen several times! You can watch a sequence of videos here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Just one small step for eaglet-kind, one giant leap for Hr2 and Hr3!
6/20/16 – Going out on a limb…a word about branching. Branching is a major developmental milestone in a young eaglets life, so naturally there have been plenty of questions about what will be happening next on the Harmar nest. The answer is, watch with us and find out! Generally eagles start branching in their ninth week or later and both eaglets are there now (Hr3 is 64 days old today). Branching involves leaving the nest proper, often upward. Not all eagles branch before fledging, for example, check out this video of an eaglet hovering over the West End nest on Catalina Island; no tree, no branching, just hovering and then fledging.
From our cam view we see one branch at the back of the nest that looks like it goes straight up, but it has some nice footholds and does level off some above the cam view. But from the road side of the nest we see there is a second possible branching limb there, and it is almost completely hidden from view on the nest cam. Second photo is my own.
Lately, both eaglets have been spending a lot of time in front of these two branches, so my guess is they will use one of them for branching.
Whether an eaglet branches or not, the last few weeks in the nest involve exercising and growing their flight muscles. They play eaglet games, flapping and hopping about, occasionally catching air and hovering briefly.
But this morning served as a reminder too, of how lucky we have been to have this first season with the Harmar Bald Eagle nest cam! In the early part of the season chatters fretted over the cam placement and we were told how difficult it was to get a cam placed at all in this location. When we realized how much we really could see, there were worries that leaf-out would block our view. Last night’s storms served as a nice reminder of three things:
1. The folks who installed this cam did a fantastic job with a difficult situation! The nest tree is so huge that there are no trees nearby that could provide a view from above, so the team had to place the cam way up the hill to see into the nest. How did they find the window that provided this view?
2. The sycamore nest tree is the only tree in the area with such a late leaf-out that we are still able to see fairly well into the nest.
3. The electrical storms did something that made the cam ‘re-boot’ or at least re-set the zoom function. We woke up this morning to a beautiful view of the area surrounding the nest, but could barely see the nest. Fortunately, Bill Powers at PixController was able to zoom back into the nest. We are really quite fortunate to have this look into the lives of these eagles!
Thank you Bill Powers and PixController for providing the live stream of the cam, and for maintaining this special look at the Harmar eagles!
So, for a few highlights from the past week, the lessons in feeding continued. The female brought a fish to the nest and partially opened it, then lets the eaglet take over to finish feeding. Later, she supervises as the eaglet self-feeds. However, that does not mean the female has completely stopped feeding the eaglets, she still feeds them sometimes, but it is becoming less often. Usually the adult makes a food drop and lets the eaglets feed on their own. All that food needs to be put to use growing, and that takes some exercise too!
6/15/16 – Wow, today the eaglets were full of excitement! The Harmar eaglets have been Pittsburgh Penguin fans their entire lives. They have Penguin fever, and today the eaglets play Penguins, flapping across the ‘ice’ and slamming the other into the boards! Later they add a puck and some sticks to the mix and ramp up the games, they are playing to be Stanley Cup Champions! You can watch the First Period, Second Period, Second Intermission Locker-room Talk, Third Period, and Stanley Cup Victory Celebration, eaglet style! Thank you to the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and WPXI for providing these images. The eaglets wanted to share a few of their favorites pictures from today’s parade.
6/10/16 – We have seen the Harmar eaglets self-feeding, and competing with each other for meals too! Some interactions are more playful, though, and the eaglets are still being fed by the adults. The reason we are seeing so much food going into the eaglets is they are experiencing their maximum need for food now that they are entering their eighth week. Their body size has come close to adult size, with just a bit more to grow. They need more muscle mass to be added yet, but they likely weigh at least 8-9 pounds. Now that they are mantling food and self-feeding, the next major milestone will be branching, which usually occurs in the 9th week. Wingercizing is better with a breeze, and there has been some rain dancing and flapping until the heavy storms hit. That gives them a chance to rest a bit and grow, and eat again.