Eagles Natural History #9: Rapid Growth
All birds of prey rely on the warmth of their mothers for the first few weeks. That is why you still see Savannah and Derek “sitting” on the eaglet. As you can see, the eaglet started to eat on day one and is fed often by the mother and the father bird. Their parents rip it up for them and feed it to them. Eagles do not regurgitate food for the chicks — some other species do. Raptor chicks (except owls) have some eyesight at birth and that aids their ability to take food from their parents.
At two weeks of age, the eaglet has grown a thick grey down that protects it from the colder temperatures. You will see that Savannah and Derek will spend less and less time “sitting” on the nest and the eaglet will keep itself warm during these time periods. The eaglet is growing faster and faster during this time and at two weeks weighs about eight times more than it did at birth. Chicks can eat half their own body weight in one day.
Raptor facts culled from: Eagle and Birds of Prey Eyewintess Books, by Jemima Parry-Jones, available at www.amazon.com.
Sixteen days old.
Photo by Rosie Hinkle. February 25, 2013.
Ten days old.
Photo by Rosie Hinkle. February 19, 2013.
Three days old. First egg hatches.
Photo by Rosie Hinkle. February 11, 2013.
Savannah on the Nest. February 6th, 2013.
Two eggs. Still Waiting. February 6th, 2013.
Derek on the Nest. February 6th, 2013.
Eaglet #1 Hatches Saturday, February 9
The Decline and Return of the American Bald Eagle #2
The American Bald eagle population continued to decline until the 1940s, when the first attempts to reverse this trend began. In 1940, the congress passed The Bald Eagle Act which provided some protection for the birds and gave eagle lovers some hope that the eagle population would rebound.
Shortly thereafter, the effects of DDT on the integrity of eagle, osprey, peregrine and loon eggs was discovered. Birds who ate contaminated fish laid eggs that were extremly thin and fragile. This meant that adult birds attempting to incubate the eggs broke them when they sat on them, causing the developing chicks to die.
Unfortunately, this trend went unnoticed for years because of the longevity of the bald eagle. No one noticed that there was no younger generation of eagles to take the place of dying eagles. By the time observers noticed, it was almost too late to save the species.
By the 1960s, the population of eagles in the lower 58 states was decimated to just over 400 nesting pairs. In Alaska, bald eagles were being killed by fishermen who thought they were protecting the salmon crop — resulting in a reduction of at least 100,000 birds over 100 years time.
Information culled from Magestic Eagles by Stan Tekiela available at Amazon.com.
The Decline and Return of the American Bald Eagle #1
In the infancy of our nation, when the American Bald eagle was adopted as our national symbol in 1782, it is estimated that there were about 100,000 nesting pairs in North America. Many different factors have been cited for the decline of the eagle population. They include the following:
- indiscriminate shooting,
- poison — usually meant for coyotes or wolves,
- government bounties,
- systematic use of the pesticide DDT,
- dumping of other toxic chemicals,
- habitat destruction,
- overfishing (reduced food source), and
- lack of education about the eagle’s role in the environment.
Information culled from Majestic Eagles by Stan Tekiela — available through Amazon.com.