UPDATES

March 23, 2015 – Snow returns to Minnesota


Minnesnooowta

Most Minnesotans in the southern half of the state awoke to snow today. Some areas south of the Twin Cities metro received greater than 9 inches (23 cm) of heavy wet snow. Do not fret, the eaglets are well prepared to deal with snow and have already endured much colder snowy weather. In fact, the eaglets have been checking out the snow, and are even playing in it some. Current conditions in the Twin Cities.
 

Where’s the other adult?

Many have noticed that both adults are spending less time in front of the camera, and that both are rarely observed at the same time. This is a normal shift in the adults’ behavior to better meet the needs of the young. Try not to worry when viewing a nest with the eaglets seemingly all alone, as one of the adults is usually sitting in the nest tree keeping an eye on the young. The other adult is actively foraging to find prey to satisfy the eaglets’ appetite, and may be absent for hours at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How large are the eaglets?
A: These eaglets are almost 4 weeks old (as of 23 March). At this current size they are between 3.5 and 5.5 pounds and roughly 12 inches tall. They reach their approximate adult size at about 10-12 weeks old (mass 7 - 12 lbs; body size 30 - 37 in; wingspan 6 - 7.5 ft). This makes them one of the fastest growing North American birds! Females are larger than males.

Q: How big is the EagleCam eagle’s nest?
A: We have not measured this nest, but the average Bald Eagle nest is about 5 feet wide. The largest Bald Eagle nest measured is roughly 10 feet wide. The EagleCam nest is likely a little over 5 feet wide.

Q: When did these eaglets hatch?
A: Eggs in the MNDNR Nongame Wildlife Program nest started to hatch on Feb. 24, 2015.

 

Watch the MNDNR EagleCam live at: mndnr.gov/eaglecam

Do not forget to donate to the Nongame Wildlife Program at tax time or any time at: mndnr.gov/nongame/donate
 

 

March 16, 2015 – Spring!

Spring is on its way…

This has been an especially warm week for the eagles in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. We are seeing our first signs of spring, and most of the snow is gone! At least for now…

These two eaglets are growing quickly. During this week’s warm weather they have been peeking out in front of the incubating parent frequently, and even lounging around the nest enjoying the sun. We are also seeing much more movement from the two eaglets, lots of wing and leg muscle exercising. While the youngest eaglet is still noticeably smaller than the one that hatched first (they are several days apart in age), both are feeding well and seem active and engaged!

Food, and lots of it!

The eagle parents are keeping with the voracious appetites of the growing eaglets. Many fans have commented that the state of the nest reflects this!

It has started to be nearly as interesting to watch the food brought to the nest as the nest itself, many small birds and mammals, and a variety of fish brought into the nest. Interestingly, last week a banded pigeon was brought into the nest. Before the leg with the band was eaten by a parent (don’t worry they will be just fine) we were able to determine that the bird was a racing pigeon, born in 2013 in Pennsylvania.

Domestic Pigeons (non-native) are a common food source for urban Bald Eagles; in fact Bald Eagles likely preyed on the now extinct Passenger Pigeon. The extinction of this once super-abundant species taught scientists, biologists, and the world a valuable lesson – over exploitation and human activities can cause extinction. Fortunately, that lesson helped save the Bald Eagle from a similar fate. The MN DNR Nongame Wildlife Program was a part of that success story and it continues to work hard to protect Bald Eagles from a world changed by humans. Learn about what we are doing to protect eagles from lead in MN.

Q. Why are there not more fish being brought to the nest?

A. Our lakes and rivers are still largely frozen in Minnesota. Once the ice melts away, dead and injured fishes will become easier to find, and will likely start showing up in the nest more frequently.

Q. Why is there only one parent at the nest at a time, we used to see both more often?

A. Don’t worry, this is totally normal. With quickly growing bellies and mouths to feed, and the larger eaglets able to produce some of their own heat, one of the parents will now spend much more time away from the nest foraging to feed themselves and their family.

Q: Which one of the adult birds has a band on its leg?

A. We were able to determine last year that it is the adult female eagle that is banded. The band was placed by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center when the eagle was brought in for rehabilitation in 2010. Learn more >>

Q. What is the big bulge that I sometimes see on the chicks chests, at the base of their necks?

A. You are seeing the young eaglet’s “crop.” This is a somewhat muscular pouch in their esophagus that is used to store food before digestion. It also helps eagles filter out inedible portions of their food that can then be spat back out. A big full crop is a sign of a very full eaglet!

Q. Is one of the adult eagle’s face injured?

A. No. Sometime on Thursday March 12th one of the adult eagles ate a particularly sloppy meal and had not managed to get all of the “leftovers” off its face. Bald Eagles are scavengers and this is a common sight.

 

 

March 6, 2015 – The Circle of Life


Death of an eaglet

We have reason to believe that one of the eaglets perished today. We have a several reports from viewers that the eaglet died at about 1:30 and was removed from the nest bowl around 3pm Central Time.
Fortunately both of the remaining eaglets appear to be in good health, and both have received ample food during the last couple feedings. It is uncommon that a nest fledges three successfully (though it does happen on occasion). There is a lot of variation in fledging success reported in the literature, but nests on average fledge between 1-2 eaglets.


Technology

Hopefully everyone has noticed we have been able to significantly improve video quality, as well as increase the size of the video on both the web and mobile feeds. These changes have also increased feed stability with only minor interruptions to service.


A couple FAQs:

Q: What is the weather like at the nest site?
A: We have good news in the forecast; temperatures are expected in the 40-50F range over the next 10 days.

Q. What do eagles eat this time of year and where do they get their food?
A. Fish are an important source of food for eagles, which is why they tend to congregate around open bodies of water this time of year (in chilly Minnesota this often means flowing water along large rivers). However, eagles are fairly opportunistic as well. Bald Eagles will readily scavenge road kill or other dead animals. They also take small mammals like squirrels and rabbits, as well as waterfowl.


For more frequently asked questions, visit: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eaglecam/faq.html


Don’t forget us at tax time!

By now most folks have received the paperwork necessary to file their taxes. Please remember the Nongame Wildlife Program (us) when filing your taxes this year. Unlike most other state programs, the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program does not receive funding from income or sales taxes, nor do we receive funds from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses! Approximately 80% of our funding comes from donations made on MN state tax forms from donors like you. The other 20% of our funding comes from competitive conservation and research grants. Unfortunately, only 2.3% of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to us. We would really like to see this donation rate increase for the 2014 tax year so please consider contributing at any level. Whether the amount is $0.50 or $5,000 or more, every donation is helpful and appreciated.


We (and MN wildlife) are forever grateful to the generous donors we do have, so help us spread the word and share our message! Online donations are still welcome all year to Minnesotans and beyond: donate.

 

 

March 3, 2015 - Three chicks!!!

Hello eagle fans!

We officially have three chicks in the nest!  It took nearly a week for all three to hatch, but they all look healthy and alert today.  The parents are feeding each of them regularly and are doing a good job of sheltering them from the cold.  The temperature at the nest (St. Paul, MN) today is about 24 degrees.  The local forecast calls for 50 degrees Fahrenheit by Friday.  March tends to be our snowiest month, however, so stay tuned!

In response to several questions from folks like you, we want to reiterate the fact that this is nature and the birds really do know what is best.  The nesting material, the timing of feeding, the habits and behavior of the adults and the chicks are all things that we need to trust are the appropriate actions for the nestlings.  Keep in mind, the adults managed to lay eggs in mid-January, successfully brought the eggs to the incubation stage and eventually hatched all three of them.  Another reminder is the amount of young raised.  Most birds lay and hatch more chicks than will survive.  This just allows the species to replenish.  If all three young survive to the fledging stage, it is considered a rare event and probably part of why Minnesota's eagle population is not only stable, but flourishing. 

Other EagleCam followers have asked about the egg shells.  What happens to them?  The shells from the chicks do not get consumed by the eagles.  The pieces of the shells get crushed so small that they fall through the nest and are not visible any longer.

 Keep an eye out for the unveiling of the new wildlife cam coming soon!  We will be installing a new camera in a peregrine falcon box in downtown St. Paul.  We hope the new camera will be installed in time for this year's nesting season, which happens in about a month.  When it is available, you will be able to watch it here.

We sincerely appreciate all of the compliments, calls, emails and especially donations that have been coming in.  Our program depends on support from folks like you and we cannot thank you enough! 

 

February 25, 2015 – First eaglet has pipped! Plus Q & A

Eagle eggs are hatching!

By now most followers have probably heard that the first eaglet pipped yesterday, Feb. 24 – right on schedule! The adults laid their eggs about a month earlier than last year, and experienced many days of subzero temperatures. Despite this, the adults have done an excellent job keeping the eggs warm, and it appears to be paying off. If you missed the pipping yesterday, several great photos and videos were captured that can be viewed on our Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook Page (you DO NOT need a Facebook account to view these images).

The main EagleCam feed can be viewed at: mndnr.gov/eaglecam We also have a mobile website for users who prefer to watch via smartphones and tablets: http://www.webcams.dnr.state.mn.us/eagle/mobile.html

Upgraded technology

On Monday MN.IT Services moved the streaming video feed to a new computer, and streamlined post-processing required before sending the video feed out publicly. This has resulted in a significant increase in video quality, which hopefully folks are noting first-hand. We are hoping these changes help our stability issues, but only time will tell.

We do have a few more modification in the works to improve the viewing experience. Hopefully we will see many of these implemented in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

More Q & A

Q: What does “pip” mean?

A: Pip is the term used to describe the first crack and hole in the egg created by the eaglet as it tries to hatch. After pipping, an eaglet may remain in the egg for a day or two before emerging completely.

Q: How do eaglets know when to hatch?

A: Just like chicken eggs, eagle eggs have yolk that feed the developing embryo. The egg contains just enough nutrients to allow the embryo to develop into a young eaglet that is strong enough to escape the egg, survive a few days outside the egg without feeding, and take solid food from the parents. Do not be concerned if you do not see a recently emerged eaglet being fed right away.

Q: Is it too cold for the eaglets?

A: Minnesota’s wildlife are tough critters and are adapted to survive Minnesota’s frigid cold and sweltering heat. There are many challenges ahead for these eaglets, including extreme weather, but these adults have shown complete dedication to their offspring.

Q: I saw a dead bird in the nest, did one of the eaglets die already?

A: We have no reason to think the first eaglet has perished. The adults have brought a couple pigeons into the nest, including one that is within the nest bowl, and we suspect people are mistaking these prey items for the eaglet.

Q: Is DNR planning to name the eagles?

A: Because these eagles are wild animals and because the Nongame Wildlife Program is a scientific agency, we want to focus on observing natural behavior, and avoid emotional attachment to these wild animals. Therefore, we do not feel it is appropriate to give them names.

Q: Do all eagles that hatch survive to fledging?

A: Estimates of fledging success vary for a wide variety of reasons, but in general nests experience some eaglet mortality before fledging.

Q: How can I help eagles?

A: There are many ways to help eagles in Minnesota and beyond. Donating to the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program is one way. Also using and encouraging others to switch to non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

Thanks again for watching and the donations received so far. Here’s to a successful year American’s National Bird.

 

February 20, 2015 - Brr… EagleCam Update and Q. & A.

The cold…

It has been a frigid week here in Minnesota, with low temperatures well below zero (0 F / -17 C) in the Twin Cities. There does look to be a slight warmup for today (Feb. 20), but there are a few more frigid mornings in the 10 day forecast. This brings us to our first Q & A:

Q. How do eagles keep their eggs warm in these temperatures?

A. Bald Eagles have a body temperature of approximately 106F (41 C) as well as a feathers that provide them with insulation. In addition, both the male and female eagles form a brood patch (a mostly featherless area of exposed skin), which mostly surrounds the eggs with feathers and helps their eggs to keep warm by coming into direct contact with the adult’s body during incubation.

Q. Is the nest going to fail because of the cold?

A. Both parents have been very attentive, so we will have to wait to see. If the eggs are fertile when laid, they will be producing some heat themselves at this point in development which will increase their chances. If all goes well, the first egg could pip as early as Feb. 23-24.

Q. Can we provide food or additional nest materials to help?

A. Neither food nor nesting material are in short supply near the nest. The adults know best, and have been bringing up additional grasses recently.

 

Continued technological challenges

Despite our improvement to the network, we are continuing to experience issues with the live streaming feed. We are continuing to troubleshoot our system, and are still hopeful that we can increase the feed’s quality and stability. Please be patient as we continue to improve video quality and size, and solve the mysterious glitch in the system that causes the feed to cut out.

Please continue to let us know when the main feed goes down via Facebook. Also please note that you can usually watch the mobile feed on your computer during these times.

 

Doing your taxes this weekend?

By now most folks have received the paperwork necessary to file their taxes. Please remember the Nongame Wildlife Program (us) when filing your taxes this year. Unlike most other state programs, the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program does not receive funding from income or sales taxes, nor do we receive funds from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses! Approximately 80% of our funding comes from donations made on MN state tax forms from donors like you. The other 20% of our funding comes from competitive conservation and research grants. Unfortunately, only 2.3% of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to us. We would really like to see this donation rate increase for the 2014 tax year so please consider contributing at any level. Whether the amount is $0.50 or $5,000 or more, every donation is helpful and appreciated.

We (and MN wildlife) are forever grateful to the generous donors we do have, so help us spread the word and share our message! Online donations are still welcome all year to Minnesotans and beyond: donate.

 

 

February 10th, 2015 – An update and some Q. & A.


Internet connection

On February 2, MN.IT Services staff seamlessly moved the EagleCam feed from a cellular internet connection to a hard-wired line. The cam was only down for a couple minutes to make the switch. On behalf of the EagleCam Team (and all our loyal viewers), we want to acknowledge and thank them!


The road ahead…

As many of you have seen, several tweaks to the streaming feed have been made, including several that have improved image quality and stabilization. That said, there are still a few kinks that we are aware of and are diligently working to resolve. Please be patient as we continue to improve video quality and size, and solve the mysterious glitch in the system that causes the feed to cut out.


A few recent questions:

Q. What do eagles eat this time of year and where do they get their food?

A. Fish are an important source of food for eagles, which is why they tend to congregate around open bodies of water this time of year (in chilly Minnesota this often means flowing water along large rivers). However, eagles are fairly opportunistic as well. Bald Eagles will readily scavenge road kill or other dead animals. They also take small mammals like squirrels and rabbits, as well as waterfowl.

 

Q. What kind of tree is the MNDNR EagleCam nest in?

A. An Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides).

 

Q. Do eagles like some trees better than others?

A. Bald Eagles choose the tops of large, tall trees for nest building, and they return year after year, adding to their massive stick nests. While they nest in many types of trees, they tend to prefer ones that protrude above the nearby canopy, providing good visibility and easy access. These nests can reach 10 feet across and weigh a ton! That’s about the size of a classic VW Beetle! Bald Eagles often have several nests within their territory, alternating among them over their reproductive years.

 

And lastly…

Q. Did you put those pine cones in the nest?

A. No. The eagles brought the pine cones into the nest recently, as well as several ‘loads’ of additional grass.


Winter Eagle Tip: There are many great places to view Bald Eagles and other birds during the winter. Here are just a few of the many areas worth exploring! http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/birds/eagles/winter.html

Thank you for subscribing to the EagleCam Updates, and for your donations & support of the Nongame Wildlife Program.

 

 

February 2nd, 2015 – Internet Connection and Photos


Video feed upgrade

Reminder that we will be working to switch the video feed over to a hardwired internet connection this evening (Feb. 2). The feed may be down some of tonight and tomorrow as we set up the system on the new connection. Thank you for your patience during these improvements.
 

Photos

We were able to take a nice series of photos today, check them out on our Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook page (You DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to view posts and photos).

 

As always, your tax-time reminder…

The beginning of the eagle nesting season just happens to be at the beginning of tax time! Please remember the Nongame Wildlife Program (us) when filing your taxes. Also, if your preparer doesn't ask you, please let them know how important wildlife is to you! Any amount donated is helpful, so even if you cannot afford much, we would like to see the number of donors increase. Right now, only 2.3% of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to us. We are very grateful to the generous donors we do have, so help us spread the word and share this message! Online donations are still welcome all year to Minnesotans and beyond: donate.

Thank you for subscribing to the eagle cam update and for your support of the Nongame Wildlife Program. It is time to start watching the camera!

 

 

January 28th, 2015 - Eggs and video upgrade

 

Eggs!

How ‘eggciting’, we now have three eagle eggs! As appears to be the norm for the DNR EagleCam nest, this pair has again laid their eggs earlier than we would have anticipated. In 2013, the pair laid during the first week of January. In 2014, the pair waited a little longer and started laying eggs on Valentine’s Day in mid-February. This year, the eggs were laid approximately as follows-

  • #1 – Laid on the 19th or 20th of January
  • #2 – Laid on the 22nd of January
  • #3 – Laid on the 25th of January

Minnesota temperatures have been hovering above average, which will increase the chances of successful hatching. If all goes well, we should see the first egg pip around February 24th. Throughout February and March eagles all over Minnesota will be laying eggs and tending nests. This is a great time to get outside and watch eagles hunt and forage for food while they prepare for their new mouths to feed. Consider taking a walk outside and see if you can spot some eagles in action. Areas of open water along big rivers (such as the Mississippi) are great places to take a short walk to view eagles and much more! Bring some binoculars! More on wildlife viewing.

For more information on our MN weather, visit the DNR’s Current Conditions webpage – the nest is located in Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Video feed upgrade

As many of you are aware, we have been experiencing some technical challenges with the camera this year. We have already moved the feed over to a newer computer that is used to receive the feed from the camera before passing it along to our viewers. This has helped significantly, but video quality is lower than we would like, and occasional drops in the video feed do occur.

Our next step is to hardwire the feed into a newly installed high-speed internet cable. This wasn’t an option when the cam was first installed in Dec. of 2012. To work around this issue, we had to use cellular air cards to get the camera feed onto the internet. We are hopeful that tapping into this high-speed line will allow us to provide more stable, and hopefully higher quality, video to our viewers. The current plan is to switch the feed over on the evening of February 2nd, so you may notice a window of time when the cam is down that afternoon / evening.

A friendly reminder

The beginning of the eagle nesting season just happens to be at the beginning of tax time! Please remember the Nongame Wildlife Program (us) when filing your taxes. Also, if your preparer doesn't ask you, please let them know how important wildlife is to you! Any amount donated is helpful, so even if you cannot afford much, we would like to see the number of donors increase. Right now, only 2.3% of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to us. We are very grateful to the generous donors we do have, so help us spread the word and share this message! Online donations are still welcome all year to Minnesotans and beyond: donate.

Thank you for subscribing to the eagle cam update and for your support of the Nongame Wildlife Program. It is time to start watching the camera!

 

 

January 20, 2015 Happy New Year!!

What?  That was weeks ago! Well, we say Happy New Year because our famous pair of bald eagles has laid their first egg!  We are very excited about this third season of camera documentation.  As you might recall, the first year we placed the camera in the nest, it failed to produce any hatchlings and last year the pair successfully raised (almost) three chicks to fledging. So, let the season begin! The female will lay up to four eggs over the next few days, then incubation begins and will last ~ 35 days or so. 
We are pretty sure we have seen one or maybe both of the chicks from last year visiting the nest over the summer.  Because there are no identifying markers (such as bands) on the birds, we will never know for sure "who" the visitors are.  We are relatively confident that the male is the same as the last two years and we do know that the female is the same - the band numbers match. 
Being that March is the typical egg-laying month for Minnesota Eagles, our pair here is proving once again, that they are NOT typical!  Earlier nesting in our climate means the parents must be much more diligent and consistent with their egg incubating duties.  Any extended absence, particularly when the temperature is below zero will put the chicks in jeopardy. This is part of the reason we don't reveal the exact location of the nest.  
The beginning of the eagle nesting season just happens to be at the beginning of tax time!  Please remember the Nongame Wildlife Program (us) when filing your taxes.  Also, if your preparer doesn't ask you, please let them know how important wildlife is to you!  Any amount donated is helpful, so even if you cannot afford much, we would like to see the number of donors increase.  Right now, only 2.3% of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to us.  We are very grateful to the generous donors we do have, so help us spread the word and share this message!  Online donations are still welcome all year: donate.
Thank you for subscribing to the eagle update and for your support of The Nongame Wildlife Program.  It is time to start watching the camera!

January 13, 2015


They’re back . . .

The pair of eagles visiting the DNR eaglecam nest this year seems to be the same birds that saw two eaglets fledge and fly off last year. We were able to get a good view of the female’s leg-band, and it appears to be a match. As you may recall, these eagles laid their eggs during the first week of January in 2013. In 2014 eggs were laid in mid-February (starting on Valentine’s’ Day). We are seeing some activity in the nest, stick moving and sitting, but are hopeful that the recent cold temperatures (-15 F – actual air temp) will delay egg laying until later in February. Help us keep watch at http://www.webcams.dnr.state.mn.us/eagle.


Technical improvements

We have been having some problems with the stability of our signal feed from the camera, but our IT folks are working diligently to get these issues resolved before eggs are laid. The biggest changes include a new computer used to stream the feed, and a hard-wired internet connection via fiber optics (the camera currently uses a cellular air card). In addition to fixing the stability issues, we hope these improvements will allow us to provide a higher resolution view into the nest.


Keeping you updated

As eagle activity and technological improvements progress, we will start sending out more frequent GovDelivery updates, so keep an eye on your inbox. Also, be sure to check out our Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook page (You DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to view posts and photos).

The DNR eagle camera is paid for by the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program, which is almost completely funded by people like you who make a voluntary donation, usually at tax time. Look for the Loon on Line 20 of the Minnesota Income Tax form (if you do your own taxes), or tell your tax preparer that you want to contribute to the “Chickadee Checkoff.” Donations are tax deductible and matched dollar for dollar.

More information for tax preparers.
Donate anytime online at: www.mndnr.gov/nongame/donate

Thanks,
From all of us at the MNDNR EagleCam Team

 

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.

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