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

On Instagram and Twitter: @unionbaywatch

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fledgling - First Flight

Early in August the older eaglet, Beatrice, first flew. There have been no documented photos of Beatrice since she left the nest. The US Fish & Wildlife stated that in early August there have been no reported cases of injured eagles in the Seattle area. So even though we do not know where Beatrice is, we have reason to hope that she is healthy. Apparently she is also a quick study. It seems she must have she learned to hunt in short order, since she does not appear to return to her parents for food.

Last week the younger eaglet, Eleanor, with great calm and serenity, finally learned to fly. This was unlike Beatrice who practically bounced all over the nesting tree prior to flying. Eleanor also differs from Beatrice in that she frequently returns to the nest. She has been seen leaving the nest early in the morning (sometimes after being fed by one of the parents) and returning around dusk. Often one or both of the parents have been seen near 520 just before dusk and sometimes one will also return to the nesting tree.

The first known photo of Eleanor in flight occurred as she circled from a branch in the nesting tree back to the nest. This all started with a small clump of twigs, which Eleanor decided to attack. She leaped and landed half in the twigs and half on the branch.

This was apparently not the desired result. Her second attack was in a more committed fashion. She landed with her full body weight on the twigs. They broke free of the branch and suddenly Eleanor was in the air, gliding serenely and circling slowly to the nest.

With the twig firmly “in hand” her sprinkling of youthful, light-colored feathers created a startling contrast against her dark wings. In four or five years when Eleanor matures the light feathers under her wings will be gone, the dark feathers on her head and tail will have been replaced by white ones and her beak will have turned bright yellow.

With maturity being years in the future is the nesting instinct so strong that she feels compelled to return the twigs to the nest at an age of 12 to 13 weeks? It is amazing to think that a bird, which could live for more than 25 years, has hatched out and grown to size of her parents in less than 3 months. This is basically the equivalent of a nine-month-old baby growing to the size of an adult human. By the time she is 6 months old, the equivalent of one and a half in human years, she will need to be totally self-supporting. (If this timing worked for humans it might reduce the cost of raising children, however it might create a few other issues.)

Please keep your eyes open on 520 north of Broadmoor and on Lake Washington near Madison Park. It is fairly common to see the adult eagles, but watch to see if you can spot the dark-headed, Eleanor. The last time she was spotted leaving the nest she headed south, but where she goes remains a mystery.

Good Luck!



  1. Larry, I love this post. I feel attached to the eaglets despite never having seen them at this location. Thank you for your consistent documentation and concern for their well-being. I especially love your comment about the rate of their growth. That precise thought struck me, too, as I was photographing the Ballard Locks Osprey juvies through their transitions. Safe flight wishes to Eleanor, and safe travel wishes to Beatrice. I truly hope she is well.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. They certainly grow up and leave home quickly. It must be a critical survival trait. Thanks again!

  3. Love the blog, keep up the good work!