Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

On Instagram: @unionbaywatch

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eaglet - Flight Prep

For the last week or two Doug Schurman has been watching, photographing and taking video of the Eaglets' progress. First of all here is a huge "Thank You!" to Doug for his excellent work. 

Doug has seen that the parents are still returning to the nest...

and they are still involved in the housekeeping.

The eaglets continue to have the usual sibling disagreements.

However the most interesting aspect of Doug's work is his documentation of the last stages of flight preparation. Beatrice, the older eaglet, has been working to develop her wing strength. 


She has even been practicing lifting off...

 for very short hops.

Her feathers are long enough, her wings are the size of her parents and each day she grows stronger...

as Eleanor watches and waits for her turn. 

It could be any day now that Beatrice takes her first real flight.

To see Doug's video of this process follow the link below.


Keep one eye on the sky as you pass over 520 or visit Foster Island. If you see a large dark eagle with interesting and unique white markings under the wings, you may be seeing Beatrice's maiden flight. She could take to the air anytime in the next few days or weeks. We will all just have to wait and see.

Thank you to Gail Hayes for being the first to photograph and point out the eaglets' winged work out.

Thanks again to Doug as well.


Odds and Ends:

Here is a photo of a Hawaiian Pueo or Short-eared Owl taken this week on Haleakala (at about 7000 feetin Maui.

This is another photo of a Short-eared Owl (SEO) taken this winter near Stanwood, WA.

The birds are very similar but it is also interesting to see the different patterns and colors of the lighter feathers near the ends of their wings. It makes one wonder how far back these two branches in the family tree diverged. For more about rare and exotic Hawaiian birds see last weeks post at:


Here is parting shot from last winter in Stanwood.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


In the middle of the largest body of water on the planet, volcanos have created a handful of beautiful and exotic islands. Historically, these islands contained unique flora and fauna found no where else. After a thousand years of human intervention water has been brought from the perpetually wet areas of the islands to the perpetually sunny areas. The result is place so attractive that humans with discretionary time and funds come from every corner of the globe. The Hawaiian Islands may literally be the most popular place on earth.

The native Hawaiian flora and fauna has been in many cases squeezed out of existence or in the best case out of the prime locations. High on the side of Haleakala (an active though currently dormant volcano) exists a relatively small preserve containing a remnant of native forest and creatures. This preserve is just below the Haleakala National Park and while owned by the Haleakala Ranch it is managed by The Nature Conservancy. Entry is limited. The entire preserve is fenced in an attempt to keep out non-native mammals like goats, pigs and even cows that can literally consume the native vegetation. The entry of humans is also limited to those with a proper permit and a guide who:
  • Checks their boots for non-native plant seeds, 
  • Keeps visitors on the designated path and 
  • Teaches them about the exotic and unique lifeforms they encounter.
My guide was Chuck Probst one of the few people on the planet who can identify native Hawaiian birds by their calls.

Even before entering the preserve Chuck found two of the endangered Nene geese. 

All other endemic species of Hawaiian geese are now extinct.

Upon entering the preserve one is initially greeted with a forest of non-native trees that originated in North America, Japan and Australia. These were introduced in the previous century after the native forest in this area was destroyed. Chuck would like to see native trees and plants reintroduced to replace these non-native pines, cedars, spruce and eucalyptus trees.

Even in this area some of the native birds can be seen. This bird is the endangered I'iwi which is pronounced "E'e'vee"
Its red-orange beak is specially adapted to fit into the flower of a plant that may now be even more rare than the bird. As one progresses deeper into the preserve the non-native vegetation is left behind.
If one were to leave the designated path it would be easy to become lost in this ancient and primeval forest.
The farther one progresses into the native forest the more birds one hears. The thick forest is generally covered in clouds and relatively dim. It is far easier to hear the birds than it is to see them. The birds are wary and seldom approach very close but they have so little contact with humans that they do not seem at all scared or nervous. The I'iwi seems mostly curious as we approach.

The birds keep a safe distance but  when they fly it appears that it is simply to get to the next blossom, bug or branch.
One of the most common native birds is the Apapane. At first glance it appears similar to the I'iwi, however the shorter and darker beak, the white rump and the longer tail are actually clearly distinctive. 

An immature Apapane has yet to develop all of its color and it appears curious as well. Here is another shot of an immature Apapane with its tongue stuck out. That is a tongue that can get to those hard to reach spots in the flower.

The Maui Alauahio or Maui Creeper is somewhat easier to see in the forest since it is not feeding on the flowers in the tree tops but rather "creeping" up or down the trunks and branches of the trees looking for its food.

The immature creeper also seems to have a bit of curiosity.

The most rare and endangered bird spotted was the Akohekohe. There may be as few as 3000 of these birds left and they all exist either in or near this preserve. This crested honeycreeper is incredibly unique.

Here is the same bird feeding. Now the white crest is hidden but more of the red-orange on the back of the head is visible.
The last bird seen on this trip was a young Amakihi.

An expedition into the Waikamoi Preserve is a memory to treasure for a lifetime.

These birds and the forest that supports them are a unique treasure. The people who work to protect these creatures are pushing back against the tide of extinction. They need all the help and support that we can give them. Learn more about the preserve and how you can help at:



Odds and Ends:

To those of you in Madison Park near Eva and Alberts nest, Would you please keep an eye on the eaglets? If you spot them sitting on the side of the nest and flapping their wings like they are getting ready to fly please add a comment on this blog. In my absence Doug Schurman has graciously agreed to try and photograph the eaglets in flight. However since he has many other responsibilities it would be helpful if we can all work together and help optimize the time he has available. Thank you!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eaglets Named

After hundreds of votes the process is complete. In third place and beating out four other sets of names are Alo and Eto. In second place are the names Monty and Maddy representing the local neighborhoods Montlake and Madison Park. Congratulations to Josephine who suggested the regal and majestic set of eaglet names which received the most votes. The names are:

         Beatrice and Eleanor!

The struggle this week has been to find the perfect picture to demonstrate these new names. In some shots an eaglet may appear very regal (look at the size of those wings) but in the shade.

Some shots show one eaglet in the light but the other appears to be sleeping.

Sometimes both eaglets are in the light but in an awkward pose.

Sometimes they are in the nearly perfect pose, but not in the light.

Since no single photo seems to really state the case here are a few more that at least show an interesting if not regal point. This one shows a well lit wing.

A quiet moment.

The nest beginning to feel a bit small.



Even taking out the trash.

Saying, "Good-Bye".

A new challenge will be trying to tell which eaglet is Beatrice and which is Eleanor. Feel free to offer suggestions based on inspecting the photos.

Thank you all for your comments.


Odds and Ends:

Early on Saturday morning (7/7/12) the moon was directly above the nest but too high to get them both in one photo. Still it was beautiful all on its own.

Eva having one of those shivering moments.

On Monday evening while kayaking out to see the Eva and Albert sitting on the 520 light poles three young swallows stopped nearby and one in particular struck a nice pose.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life After Eddie - Wings

It has been nearly one month (e.g. June 2nd) since new life was first seen in the nest that Eddie built. On that first day there was still room in the nest for Eva. In fact the eaglets may have still needed her body to keep them warm.

Lately the only time the parents are seen in the nest is when they are feeding the eaglets. The eaglets have been utilizing every meal and growing at an incredible rate.  One of the ways to see the growth is to look at the change in their wings.

Here is a June 10th photo that shows one of the eaglets stretching it's wings. There appears to be almost no sign of primary or secondary flight feathers.

Five days later it is a bit difficult to see but it appears the feathers at the tips of the wings have grown an inch or more. 

In just an additional 4 days, by June 19th, the wings have clearly grown in length but they will still need more surface area before the eaglets will be able to fly.

By June 24th the percentage of new, dark, functional feathers has increased dramatically.
By June 30th their wings are looking even more impressive.

Notice how the flight feathers (the trailing feathers) continue to make up a larger portion of the wings. So far the eaglets have mostly been observed stretching their wings or using them to maintain their balance. During the next month they should begin exercising the wings to develop the strength required for flight. During this time the eaglets will be more likely to be sitting near the edge of the nest with their wings extended. They will appear almost as large as their parents and should be visible with the naked eye from some distance.

May you have a safe and sparkling fourth.


Odds and Ends:

Earlier this week a chickadee was observed harvesting serviceberries for it's chick. The parent looked frazzled and worn while the chick cried incessantly. Notice how the chickadee appears to use it's weight, gravity and wing strength to remove the berry from the branch. In truth it was actually removing mouthfuls from the fruit and transferring them one at a time to the chick.

As dusk approached in the Arboretum this week three young barred owls flew from branch to branch. Stopping, they craned their necks in a circular fashion to help them focus on anything that moved. 
Given that the owlets are already flying they are most likely four to eight weeks older than the eaglets, but the eaglets are already larger.

The eagles would still love to see salmon spawning in the Arboretum Creek.