Our Eagles at Nico Wynd
...by Les Elias / mynicowynd.com
It started in early 2010.
At first, our eagles were a happy couple. They spent time together... resting on their favorite branches... welcoming each other when coming home.
But on March 16th, their life changed. That's when I received an email from David Hancock, the president of Hancock Wildlife Foundation. He informed me that while driving by, he had found a dead eagle female on Highway 99, near Nico Wynd.
Here are excerpts from his emails:
“I found a
dead adult on H99 directly across from you and in coming to your nest
I saw one of your birds giving a repeated distress call and no
partner arrived. It did not look good.
“I only saw the male. It exhibited 15 minutes of extreme distress calls with no apparent partner in sight. I was very worried it had not just momentarily lost a partner - the observation -- but that the partner might be gone ... The interesting element is that the distress calls could well have brought in an additional female to take over the territory. That is only a guess since we do not have banded birds.”
On the following day I noticed an eagle in the tree with the nest. It was resting on a different branch than I usually saw them on. And by the evening, there were two eagles together, side by side.
As it turns out, we may have a new couple now...
Two days later they were repairing their nest, bringing in new branches...
The couple fell into a new life in the following days. At first mating... then sitting in the nest during the incubation phase.
Later we heard an usual noise... the sound of a new family. And watched the parents spend time leaning into the nest... as though caring or feeding.
We looked forward to our a first views of the new generation.
On May 11th, coming from a walk on the dike with my wife, Suzanne, we noticed our mother eagle in her nest.
Above her – two other eagles circling... and a third one further away.
One of the flying eagles tried to land in the nest, but it was fought away by the mother. Then the two foreigners flew away... followed by the third. Perhaps it was the father following the two, to make sure they actually left.
In the following days, it was very quiet in the nest. The parents were away most of the time, only coming back in the evenings.
What happened to the family? We could only guess.
Then, on May 16th I noticed a dead bird high in the branches... about 8 to 10 meters below the nest.
I thought it looked like a smaller eagle, but its feathers were a lighter brown just like a tail of a red tail hawk, but with a white tail. Maybe it was a hawk. (If you can identify the species, please let me know by clicking here.)
I tried to take pictures from all directions. I tried to see the head of the bird, but it was too close to the trunk.
Days went by with rain on and off, and the dead bird was still there.
Four days later, on May 20th, I was talking to my neighbour, Byron, when I noticed one of our eagles going down from the nest... branch by branch. It was headed toward the dead bird. I ran home for my camera and recorded these pictures of our eagle feasting. Was this the first time, or had I just not noticed it before?
Halfway into the feast, our male eagle decided to take it's meal up to the nest, for a more comfortable space. Here he continued with the feast.
The dead bird's body was big as you can see. Now I think the feasting could have gone on for days before... for the carcass to have become light enough for our eagle to pull it up to its nest.
Since then, our eagles spend many days away, but our tree is still their home. Perhaps now they have a second home someplace else...
Here the story ends: We don't have young eagles this year and our existing eagles may be a new couple – with a new female.
Bald Eagle information
Flight range: Bald eagles can fly to an altitude of 3,000 m (10,000 feet).
Sight:At a fixed altitude of 300 m (1,000 feet) over open country, a bald eagle can spot prey over an area of almost 8 km² (3 square miles). Bald eagles have eyelids that close during sleep. They can also see fish swimming underwater from several hundred feet above.
Average feather count: 7,000
Average weight: adult female = 5.2 kg (11 ½ pounds); adult male = 4.3 kg (9 ½ pounds). Eagles can generally carry up to half of their own weight.
Incubation period: 35 days
Chicks:Sometimes two chicks will survive, but it is not uncommon for the older eaglet to kill the smaller one, especially if the older is a female, as females are consistently larger than males. Should one chick decide to kill its sibling, neither parent will make the slightest effort to stop the fratricide.
Nesting cycle: It takes about 20 weeks from the time the parents build or rebuild the nest and the young are on their own. During the nesting cycle the parents remain within one to two miles of the nest.
Body Temperature: About 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit)