This is the second spring since Eddie the Eagles demise on the 520 bridge. This year there have been a some changes around the nest that Eddie (and Eva) built.
For one thing Eva and Albert (Eddies replacement) have only one eaglet this year as compared to the two they raised last year. In addition this year's eaglet appears to be three or four weeks ahead of last year's schedule. The core of the eaglets new feathers can be seen protruding behind each wing like a row of parallel straws. This looks strange but it is normal.
The same thing happened last year, to the eaglets Beatrice and Eleanor, but the timing was closer to mid-June, not mid-May. Most likely the reason for this change in timing is beyond knowing, but it does make one wonder if the earlier hatching could be due to the warmer spring. On the other hand maybe the hatching was around the same time but since there is only one eaglet the growth has been accelerated. It is hard to know.
Still in 2013 more things are the same with the 520 eagles than are different from 2012. For the last few months Eva has been almost constantly at the nest. To begin with there was the mating in the nesting tree.
Then once the eggs were laid, nearly constant warming was required and lately Eva has been at the nest protecting the eaglet as it grows.
Also like last year Albert has been doing most of the grocery runs.
By the way for the last couple of months the eagle sitting on the 520 light pole was most likely Albert, since Eva has been at the nest most of the time. During the rest of the year, when Eva is not nesting, she is more likely to be the one on the 520 light pole and Albert gets relegated to one of the cottonwood trees along the shore. Female eagles on average weigh about 50% more than the males, so they tend to get their choice when it comes to hunting spots, how the nest is built and who gets to eat first. Since the male birds are smaller it seems logical to assume that they may be the more agile hunters. Since Albert is the primary provider, when the family is in the nest, it seems appropriate that he should be very good at finding food.
Last year Albert caught a gull for dinner (read the story here).
Even though he stopped to rest on the way back to the nest, he did not take a single bite to eat. As a matter of fact it seems that all the food that he brings to the nest seems to be fresh and whole. Usually the diet seems to be fish, fish and more fish. Once the food reaches the nest Eva immediately takes over. Whether it is removing feathers or strips of meat she is the one who begins the food preparation.
Then she feeds the eaglet, herself and then finally Albert gets a turn. quite often Albert simply leaves the nest without even eating. He just heads out to find more food.
Folks quite often ask how they can tell Eva and Albert apart. It is fairly easy when they are side by side, since Eva is clearly larger. However if the two birds are not together the challenge is considerably more difficult. Unlike our local pileated woodpeckers there are no obvious color differences between the mature, male and female eagles.
The only clue that maybe seems to work for me is comparing the diameter of the eye to the distance from the top of the eye to the top of the head. Admittedly this distance can change depending on how the feathers are laying. However in general it seems that for Eva the top of the head is often slightly greater than 1 eyes distance away, while for Albert this distance is usually less than or equal to the diameter of an eye. Still these two photos of the same eagle, taken last month in Interlaken Park, show that this method is not clear cut and cannot be used if the feathers are ruffled.
Still I do think this is Albert.
Last year's initial post about Eva and Albert's first set of eaglets was titled, Life after Eddie. Just like last year once again there is new life, and hope for the future, in the nest that Eddie built.