I am studying Bald Eagle (and other raptor) nesting behavior and would love your help documenting the behavior we see on camera! If you are interested in helping just drop me an email (email@example.com) and I will send you a link to our data page.
I am interested in how much time each eagle spends on the nest, and the time spent incubating, brooding, and feeding. So, when an eagle arrives at the nest enter that time in the ‘start time’ columns and when they leave the nest enter that on the same row in the ‘end time’ columns. Note that the hour, minutes, and seconds that each event occurs has its own column. While the eagle is on the nest, if it is standing, or lying, or moving sticks you do not need to record these activities, the activities that I do want you to record are: incubation, brooding, and feeding. When an eagle does one of these activities then enter the start and stop times in a new row.
I am also interested in how often the eagle tends to the eggs (not how much time is spent tending to the eggs). When an eagle gets up and rolls the eggs or picks at/aerates the bedding then enter that information in a new row; note that you only need to enter when these activities started, not when it ended.
I am also interested in recording the materials brought to the nest (sticks, soft bedding and food). When an eagle brings something to the nest record this as the activity, instead of entering ‘on’ you will enter what they came onto the nest with. For example, when an eagle brings soft material to the nest to line the nest cup enter the activity as bedding and in the notes column enter what kind of material it was (leaves, grass, straw, etc.). When an eagle brings food to the nest enter the activity as food and in the notes column enter the most specific information you can (fish, catfish, bird, duck, mammal, rabbit, etc.).
Remember, when an eagle leaves the nest you will enter that time as the ‘end’ time for the activity of being on the nest, so do not use a separate row to record that they left the nest. If they are on camera, but not on the nest, enter tree as the activity and include the time spent there.
Intruders are anything that enters the nest other than the birds that claim the nest. This includes other eagles, hawks, mammals, reptiles, etc. Give as much detail in the notes column as possible.
A note about time: please record the time using the clock embedded in the camera screen. If you are watching the Hanover nest, which has no embedded clock, please use the time from your computer screen.
Please note that some people watching nest cameras have given the birds names, I do not need you to enter the name given by others under the ‘which eagle’ column, simply note if it was the male or female, if you are not sure which it was simply use the code for eagle.
How to enter data into Google Sheets:
- Click on the link that I sent you to open the spreadsheet, or navigate to the page. The first page you see is a list of the abbreviations or codes that we will use for each activity. Please review each type of activity and note the codes that will be used to record these activities in the log.
- Look at the bottom of the page and click on the tab called ‘example’ to see made-up examples of how you would record various types of activities.
- Click on the tab for the nest you are observing (Harmar, Hays, Hanover, etc.). Each nest will have its own tab so be sure that you have clicked on the correct tab before you start entering data. The tab that is currently open is brighter than the other tabs so you should be able to see which tab you are using.
- Scroll down the page to determine if an entry already exists for the date and time for activity that you observed.
- If there is already an entry there, determine if you agree with the data that has been entered, minor differences in the seconds noted should be expected, but if you see a major difference please put an explanation under the ‘notes’ column (for example, if someone entered female and you think it was the male, or if someone entered 10:28:39 am and you think it occurred at 10:39:28 am).
- If no entry has been made for the event you observed then enter the appropriate codes in each column for your event.
- Try to be as specific as possible by using the notes column to give details. For example, if material is brought to the nest to use as bedding in the nest cup then enter bedding under activity and in the notes column enter leaves, grass, straw, etc. If food is brought to the nest enter food under activity and in the notes column enter fish, catfish, mammal, rabbit, duck, etc., being as specific as possible.
- When you are finished, simply close the page, all changes are saved automatically.
If you are watching Peregrine Falcons, I am interested in the same information, simply replace the word eagle with falcon, and replace the word nest with nest box or scrape, and follow the same directions.
For this season I would like to focus on the three Bald Eagle nests on camera in Pennsylvania (Harmar, Hays, Hanover). I also plan to include the Cathedral of Learning (Pitt) Peregrine Falcons and the Sydney Sea-Eagles this season. Eventually I hope to have volunteers from all the raptor cameras entering data. If you watch a different nest and would like to participate this season, please contact me to have your nest added.
If you have any questions about how to enter an observation please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for your participation and help with this project. Hopefully we can add to the scientific knowledge about Bald Eagles as well as other raptors!