11/8/16 – Citizen science can be considered democratic science, it is when citizens are included in the scientific process, and there are varying levels of involvement. For example, many of the folks watching the Harmar nest camera contributed their observations to create the daily updates on the chat. Team Harmar began watching way back in January, even though the first egg was not laid until March 9th!
As this was the first season with the nest camera, we had some problems to be worked out with the camera and out reporting system, but during 30 days of incubation observers watched approximately 12 hours each day, recording 140 shift changes! Our eagles usually changed shifts four or six times each day.
During incubation Team Harmar recorded 11 food items brought to the nest, six unidentifiable and five fish. The adults also brought in 13 balls of fluffy bedding and 10 sticks. Plus, on seven different days there appeared to be eight challenges on the nest by Red-tailed hawks or some other disturbance!
After the chicks hatched on 4/14 and 4/17 Team Harmar faithfully recorded their observations until the first fledging, 82 days later, logging 565 total feedings! This includes a parent feeding the chick and the young eaglets’ self-feedings.
There were 215 food deliveries. We simply recorded ‘food’ for 147 (68.4%) of these, but for the food deliveries that we could identify 62 (28.8%) were fish, 3 (1.4%) mammal and 3 (1.4%) bird. Interestingly, all of the birds brought to the nest were recorded between April 25 through April 28. Bald eagles are known to exploit locally abundant food sources, it may be that there were some newly fledged young birds or migrating flocks moving through at that time.
While the number of feedings that occurred each day changed throughout the season (fewer in the middle of the nestling stage), the number of food deliveries to the nest seemed to increase throughout the nestling stage. We would have to study many, many more nests to know if these trends are significant, or if they even hold true for other Bald eagles.
Thank you very much to Team Harmar and all the nest observers who reported what they saw! There were many dedicated watchers who committed long hours to making observations all season long, and some who just made occasional remarks, but all were important. We particularly appreciate the ‘field reports’ that helped us understand what was happening around the nest, putting in context that we saw on camera. Thank you to PixController for providing the nest camera and the chat feature through which we shared this information!
There are also many nest camera watchers out there who did not chat with us, or who watch other nests, and we consider ourselves one large family. Bald eagles represent the wilderness and freedom, particularly our freedom and liberty. As citizens of the United States we are obligated to participate in our democracy. As Bald eagle lovers I hope you consider all the things the recovery of our national symbol represents as you head out to the polls today.
Please make time to participate in democracy and go vote!