June 26, 2014
Hello Eagle Fans!
Thank you for your patience in waiting for this update. So many projects are happening this time of the year, and thankfully our eagles have had very little drama lately!
By this time, the young eagles are doing a great job of exercising their wings and taking small flights across the nest. At this age, they are able to go several days without food and they weight between 8 and 12 pounds. Their downy feathers have been replaced with strong feathers that will support them in flight. Their feet have developed a very strong grip for grabbing prey items including slippery fish!
We are sure the eaglets have been fed close to every day and multiple times a day. Many folks have been worried from time to time about the presence of the parents. They are definitely still around. It would be very, very unlikely for them to abandon the nest now. They have invested almost 6 months into their young and leaving them now is just not in their nature. You can actually see the young birds looking up above them from time to time - when they do this, they are looking and listening to their parents. And good parents they have been!
We are also grateful that the youngest eaglet has caught up to its sibling and is strong and healthy. The sibling has certainly been challenging the youngster, mantling over the prey and not sharing meals. We have seen the young one grab the food and get a good meal often, so it will only make the littlest one stronger in the long run and it is thriving!
We will be keeping the camera on for several weeks yet, moving it around as much as we are able, to view the youngsters as they learn to fly. We will send out a note when the camera will be shut off, which will happen when almost no activity is happening in or around the nest.
Finally, Thank you all who have been supportive, both in emails and monetarily. We very much appreciate the donations that have come in and all the fans we have gained are tremendous! We are still in need of funds for the final few days of our fiscal year. Our fiscal year ends on June 30th - this coming Monday. So, if you haven't donated, please consider making a small contribution so that we can continue our Nongame work and add more cameras in the future. Again, your donations are DOUBLED by the matching Critical Habitat License Plate fund. Your $25 donation is automatically $50! How cool is that!?
Thanks so much and have a great weekend!
May 14, 2014
Hello Eagle Fans,
Today has been a very nice, sunny day here at the eagle's nest. Lots of napping going on in the nest and all is well. As always, questions have been coming in about the eaglets.
First, to address the first-hatched eaglet that was taken from the nest on May 2nd. That chick sustained an injury to its "elbow" sometime during its development. The injury was old and it was a fracture that could not be repaired. That, and a systemic infection lead to the decision to euthanize the chick. While this is sad for us, the eagles instinctively continue care for the younger two without skipping a beat. The decision to rescue the eaglet was not an easy one. Our position as a scientific agency was not to intervene for any reason. When it became apparent that this decision was not popular, to say the least, we investigated the availability of the Xcel Energy crew who helped us install the camera two years ago. They were nearby and available so we removed the chick from the nest. Xcel Energy staff were phenomenal. Tim Rogers and his crew did an excellent job of getting in and out of the nest very quickly and grabbing the chick without incident. Thank you, Xcel! When the chick arrived at the Raptor Center, it was sedated, examined and radio graphs were taken. Over the next two days, doctors determined that the chick would not survive and they humanely euthanized it. You can read more about its trip to the raptor center here: https://www.facebook.com/TheRaptorCenter?ref=ts
The last-hatched eaglet has been observed breathing heavily and sometimes rapidly. This was first noticed around May 7th. We are watching closely for deterioration, but there doesn't seem to be an overall decline with its health. It is eating, defecating and behaving normally. These are all clinical signs that the bird is thriving. The breathing also happens to be improving. We are pretty confident that the youngest will be ok and will survive to fledging, which by the way, will be soon!
As you have seen, the chicks stretch their wings and flap, they walk around and peek over the edge of the nest. These are all signs that they are getting ready to fly on their own. They are almost the size of their parents now and have replaced all of those downy feathers with permanent ones. Fledging will be between about June 1st and June 15th. The chicks will stay in the general vicinity of the nest for at least six weeks after that. They need to hang around their parents, observing them hunting, flying, soaring and defending themselves. Essentially spending this time learning how to be an eagle!
Enjoy these last weeks with the eaglets!
May 2, 2014
Hello Eagle Fans!
It has been a very long day for many of us here at MNDNR and also at the Raptor Center.
As many of you know, the first-hatched eagle chick was struggling and removed from the nest today. The decision to rescue the chick was made by our staff in consultation with Commissioner Landwehr. The bucket truck was in the area and Xcel Energy staff were available and willing to assist with the truck. At about 7:00 pm, the chick was removed from the nest when it appeared it was not stuck on anything. Examination at the nest site revealed enough concern about the chick to bring it to the experts at the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center (TRC).
Initial exam at TRC revealed a serious injury to the right wing and possibly the right leg. The elbow of the chick was severely swollen. The chick will receive treatment and further examinations over the weekend. The prognosis will be made when possible, and the decision on the fate of the eaglet will be made and announced at that time. TRC is permitted for Wildlife Rehabilitation by The State of minnesota and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Minnesota statute 6244 governs the rules regarding wildlife rehabilitation. The purpose of rehab is to return healthy individual animals to the wild. The majority of wild animals in the state are protected by state and federal law, and it is not legal for anyone to possess wild animals for any purpose without a permit from both agencies. Bald Eagles have the additional protection of The Bald and Golden Eagle Act of 1940.
We can alll be grateful for this protection because it helped return many animals from the brink of extinction to flourishing. The bald eagle in Minnesota is a perfect example of this success story. Many years ago, when the bald eagle population was very low, the Minnesota DNR (Nongame Program) provided chicks to other states in order to assist in the recovery efforts around the country. This could not have happened without donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program and the Minnesot DNR's efforts. Conservation of game and nongame animals at the population level is the goal of programs such as ours, and sometimes very difficult and unpopular decisions are made to that end.
Examples of conservation efforts by the Nongame Program include returning peregrine falcons and trumpeter swans to the state. When peregrines were being raised in captivity in order to return them to the wild, only about one in seven chicks survived to fledging. With the same type of efforts, only about one in four trumpeter swan hatchlings lived to reproduce. Growing up is difficult! However, both of these birds and the bald eagle populations are now fully recovered in the state so that they are no longer on the endangered or threatened list and will live on for future generations to enjoy.
We very much appreciate public support we have gotten, and all of the people today who were involved in the rescue of the eagle chick. Thank you Xcel Energy and The Raptor Center! We will keep you all updated on the progress of the chick here and on facebook. Stay tuned!
April 22, 2014
Hello Eagle Fans!
We hope you have been enjoying watching our little eagles grow and get strong. The young family has done an excellent job of surviving the harsh Minnesota spring. The three chicks are now roughly a month old. Though they seem "little" the chicks are almost the size of a crow. In another month, they will be almost full-sized and getting ready to fledge (fly from the nest)! You can see the young already stretching and exercising their wings to get ready for the big flight. Weather challenges are likely not over with, however. In the coming months it is likely they (and we) will have to endure thunderstorms, wind, rain, hail, and lightening. All of these things can be hazardous to the eagles and quite possibly, the camera.
Many people have been worried about and have been sending concerns about the youngest eaglet. It is still obviously smaller than it's siblings, but it is growing at the same rate of speed as the other two. Both parents have been very attentive to all of the chicks, making sure each of them receives food at meal time. The smallest one is just that, the smallest of the three eaglets and one week behind the first chick in development. Sibling rivalry is common and innate in eagles. This behavior prepares them for future hunting, territorial disputes as well as predator attacks. Eagle chicks can be predated on by great-horned owls, raccoons, other raptors as well as other eagles. Rough-housing in the nest is natural and necessary for them to survive in the wild.
There certainly has been no lack of food in the nest. Some of the carcasses brought into the nest include: channel catfish, squirrels, pigeons, rabbits, a red-headed duck, and a muskrat! All of these food items support the diet of the eagles which are considered to be carnivorous raptors. Carnivores eat only meat and receive all of their nutrition from the meat of different species of prey. All of the moisture their bodies need comes from the meat the eagle eat, so they need very little water in their diets.
This week we were able to finally read all of the numbers on Mom's band on her leg! We tracked down the data and found out that she was banded by the Raptor Center of Minnesota in 2010. The band on the left leg is one indicator (most banders use the right leg). She had been brought into the center with a foot injury and intestinal parasites. The doctors at the Raptor Center determined that she was hatched in 2009. After her injuries healed, she was released in Hastings in November of 2010. If this is the same female that nested at our camera nest last year, it would have been her first brood. Eagles reach sexual maturity at the age of five. It takes this long for their plumage (feather colors) to reach the full white head and tail. Inexperience by young birds often does not end well and this might be part of the reason the nest failed last year. Whatever the reason, we were very excited to find out this information about the mother at our nest and that they are raising their first brood just fine!
Once again, the Nongame Wildlife program would like to thank all those who subscribe to this newsletter and especially to those who have donated to the Nongame Wildlife Fund. All donations are so appreciated and we obviously have very generous supporters. Thank you!
March 28, 2014
Happy Friday, Eagle Fans!
What an exciting week it has been in the eagle's nest! Monday, the first egg hatched. Wednesday, the second egg hatched. Today, there is a good-sized pip in the final egg that will likely hatch by tomorrow morning. Three eggs and three hatches is pretty impressive, especially after witnessing all three of them fail last year. So, the parents are busy, busy, busy.
Over the next few weeks/months, the male eagle will continue to hunt for food to bring back to the nest. While both parents take part in feeding, the female does the majority of picking little pieces off of the carcasses in the nest to give to her young ones. As the chicks and their mouths get larger, the morsels of food get larger. It is quite amazing how quickly the chicks gain enough strength to hold their heads up to accept food. Eagles have a special digestive system that allows them to eat food that might seem rotten to humans, so the nest filling up with carcasses is normal. It is also a method of insurance. If something happened to one of the parents, there would be a lot of food left in the nest for the little ones to hopefully live on for a while until the other parent brings more food.
There are several threats to eagles and their young. In fact, even though most eagles lay 2 or 3 eggs, it is rare for three chicks to survive until fledging. Last week, someone brought in a dead bald eagle to us. It had run into a power line and died. The week before that, it was a dead eagle that had been hit by a semi. These could have been breeding birds. So too, there are threats to the young ones. Predators like racoons or great-horned owls could get into the nest and kill the young. Also, as the young ones get larger, the demand for food increases exponentially. As they grow, they become ravenous and compete for food. One of the chicks might be smaller and too weak to compete for itself. This competition and natural violence WILL happen here. We want everyone to be prepared for violence, blood or even death in the nest. This is the natural world and we are just peeking in on it. We will not intervene in this natural process. If one of the chicks looks like it is in trouble or dies, we will not rescue it. It is all part of the natural process of life and everything that happens is a learning moment for us as well as for the eagle parents and their chicks. Additionally, it would be illegal for anyone else to approach the nest and attempt to rescue potentially sick or injured eaglets. That will not be allowed, either.
The nest is very high in the tree and a bucket truck was needed to install the camera. This work was done early in the winter, before the birds were displaying courtship behavior or even frequenting the nest. The eagles are not fed by humans, nor does anyone physically visit this nest. They are completely on their own, in their natural environment with no assistance from humans. This is the way nature intended and this is also why we keep the location of this nest discreet. Any disturbance could threaten the nest, or habituate the birds which could turn out to be deadly for the new family. We do not want that to happen! We are very grateful to be able to witness this fascinating and amazing process. Our generation is very fortunate to have this opportunity. We hope that you are also enjoying every minute of spying on the natural world and learning from these beautiful and majestic birds.
Have a great weekend!
Your Eagle Team
March 26, 2014
Good afternoon, Eagle fans!
What an exciting week we have had in the eagle's nest!! On Sunday the 23rd, we saw the first pip (small hole in the egg). On Monday, the hole got a little bigger and we could see the chick moving around inside of the egg. By early Tuesday morning there was a chick!! Yesterday, as the parents were teaching the young one to accept food, we could see the second egg with a pip. This morning, the second egg hatched! With the cold weather, we have not gotten a good look at the second one, since mom and dad are keeping their little family very warm. We are so grateful that they learned to become good parents.
There is plenty of food in the nest. Several fish and at least one pigeon. Many people were concerned that one of the chicks had died, but that was just yesterday's lunch! The adult eagles have been bringing in several Minnesota species: rabbits, squirrels, catfish, pigeons, and ducks. Feeding time for the little ones is very messy. Their first couple of meals are very liquid-y, much like the lining of the egg that they first live from. As the chicks get bigger, the parents incorporate more and larger pieces of meat from the carcass. Soon, as they watch and learn from their parents, they will begin picking their own meat off of the carcass.
We are so glad that you are all enjoying our eagle cam and Facebook sites so much. We are so pleased that some of you have found it in your hearts (and wallets) to translate that into donations that will help ensure that we can continue to bring you stories and products you love. Just in the last few weeks we have been floored by the generosity of some new donors. Donations of $250 and $500 have been received at eagle cam central! With our matching dollars these two donors generosity translates into $1500.00 more dollars for wildlife in Minnesota!
Here are some examples of what this money might fund: 30 more months of eagle cam streaming video, approximately one whole week of rare wildlife surveys and monitoring initiatives contributing to the conservation of as diverse an array of species as: Loons, Salamanders, Bats, Butterflies, or even rare mice species! This money could mean more educational events, webcams, citizen science initiatives or just good old biologist availability to answer the hundreds of public questions our program receives per week! In our desperate funding times right now donations like this can mean the difference between services provided as usual and vast reductions in the nongame wildlife program. Thank you to those who have already been so generous and a challenge to those who haven?t taken the leap yet to help support the program that you (and we) love!
Now, we watch and wait for the third egg to hatch.?That is absolutely priceless!!?We will update again soon!
March 21, 2014
Hi Eagle Lovers!
Today's the big day! It was thirty-five days ago today that the first of three eggs was laid. The average incubation time for American Bald Eagles is 35 days. AVERAGE. So, we are expecting hatch any time now. We have not seen a pip (hole in the shell) or crack in any of the eggs. There seems to be a bit of high energy in the nest today. The female seems more agitated than usual, much like she was each time she laid an egg. Her pupils are enlarged, suggesting heightened arousal. Does that mean she can hear chicks peeping in the eggs? Maybe. Does she feel movement in the eggs? Maybe! We certainly don't want to get overly confident about this clutch, but it would sure be nice if they did hatch this year, right?!!
Other than some snow this week and some stick rearranging, the biggest news is the camera and feed. Without going into a lot of technical details, suffice it to say, this is still a technical work in progress. We are constantly working on the quality of the camera and feed, and like we said last week, please bear with us as we work out kinks in the process.
We will be watching as much as possible over the weekend and will send out an update if we see a hatch. Keep your fingers crossed everyone! Have a great weekend and enjoy your eagle viewing. Don't forget to visit our facebook page for more frequent updates and to make sure you are seeing these updates - make sure you "like" the page and spread the word to friends and family and even your classrooms. Like, like, like us! :) And as always, if you can afford a donation, please consider a tax-deductible amount that would help us with projects such as this. We still hope to purchase additional cameras for other nests and to maintain and upgrade this one. We sincerely appreciate your support - please help keep us going!
Thank you and have a great weekend!
Your Eagle Team from your Nongame Wildlife Program
March 14, 2014
Hi Eagles Lovers!!
We hope that you are all enjoying the warmer weather that we have been having. We know our beloved eagles are!! You can almost see the relief and determination on their faces as they prepare for hatching.
This week has been technically challenging for us here at eagle central. We are constantly making tweaks and improvements for visual, speed and streaming quality. While the system is still not perfect, we feel it is still far better than it was last year. Please bear with us as we continue to resolve issues with the camera and video feed.
With all of the snow now gone from the nest, mom and dad continue to bring grasses in and re-arrange the nesting materials and the eggs. They constantly turn and rotate the eggs to keep them developing and viable. We've been asked if we think the eggs will hatch this year? It is impossible for us to predict. All we know is what you know for sure. The birds seem to be much more attentive and determined this year with their incubation behavior. The nest is deeper and seems to be insulated much more than it was last year.
As many of you know, the eggs did not hatch last year. There were several factors in 2013: they laid their eggs in the first week of January while it was very cold out. The parents left the nest for periods of time that were probably far too long for the eggs to have been kept warm. Particularly on one day in early February when both of them were gone for more than 20 minutes when the outside temperature was well below zero. Unfortunately, the birds incubated for a very long time, until all three eggs eventually broke, empty.
We are far more optimistic this year. The first egg was laid on February 14th, more than a month later than last year and much closer to the typical Minnesota eagle nesting period. The incubation period for American Bald Eagles is about thirty-five days. Thirty-five days from February 14 is March 21. We would expect to see the eggs hatch sometime between March 21st and March 25th. We are all very excited about the possibility of three eaglets on camera this year! We hope you are, too!
Enjoy your weekend, check in on the nest and maybe the birds will decorate their home with some green for St. Patrick's Day!! :)
Hello Eagle Lovers!
February 28, 2014
Hi Eagle Lovers!
Happy Friday! Lots has happened in the last two weeks. Exactly two weeks ago today, The first egg was laid. Within the next three days, two more eggs were laid, for a total of three. This pair laid three eggs last year as well, except that they were all laid in the first week of January. Last January was just about as cold as it has been this year. We are cautiously optimistic that the birds have a better chance of hatching this year for two important reasons: 1. The nest is built better this year. It has more grass and is MUCH deeper than last year's nest and 2). The parents are much more diligent than they had been last year.
Of course we cannot see the nest at night, but to our knowledge, the birds have not left the nest for more than one minute. They only lift off of the eggs to rotate them and to switch incubators. Both of them seem to be very dedicated to making this nest successful this year! We certainly hope that this means they learned something from last year. Assuming, of course, that this is the same pair of birds. While we are relatively confident that these are the same birds, we really don't know for sure. Especially with the unbanded bird. We have some numbers that we read on the banded bird last year, but we have not gotten a good view of the band this year to compare numbers. If we do, we will for sure let you know!
I will continue to send out these updates on Fridays and will send this message to our Update page on the MNDNR website. The BIG difference between last year and this year with us is that we have a FACEBOOK page! Our fans and staff are constantly talking about our celebrity eagles, so please, go to the page and "like" it to receive even more news and photos about the eagles! Check it out here: Nongame Facebook page.
The big question this week: Will the eggs survive the cold? A: We really don't have anyway of knowing how warm those eggs are. The camera is so new and this experience is only two years old. We do know that they can freeze if not properly incubated, because that is likely what happened last year. But, will a differently shaped nest keep them warmer and therefore more likely to hatch? We hope so!! Only time will tell.
Meanwhile if you have questions, post them on facebook! We will answer them there, or here. We hope you are enjoying the eagle cam as much as we are and have an excellent weekend! Send the birds your warm thoughts!
This is the second year broadcasting a live feed from a Bald Eagle nest in the Twin Cities metro area. We believe this is the same pair or eagles that have been using this nest for several years. This year there are again a total of three eggs in the nest. The first egg was laid on Friday, Feb. 14th and the following two over about the next six days. Eagles typically incubate their eggs for about 35 days. Although the nest looks chilly this year covered in a blanket of snow, Bald Eagles in Minnesota have adapted to laying and caring for eggs in these conditions. These diligent parents have kept their eggs warm and dry in a deep pocket in the middle of the nest throughout the snow and cold of our February this year. Please check back often to see how the nest is doing, observe great behaviors like parents switching off incubation duties, feeding, and protecting the eggs from cold and snow.
The EagleCam is so cool! How can I help wildlife in Minnesota?
This eagle camera is brought to you by the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program, which helps over 700 species of Minnesota wildlife thrive. The program is largely supported by donations from people like you.