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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Life After Eddie - Eaglet Growth

Eaglets may have one of the fastest growth rates of any bird.
Not all sources agree on the rate, however all the sources read, imply a rate that is equal-to or faster than a quarter pound a day. Watch this video to see the process.

The eaglet's growth from just two weeks ago is phenomenal. (To see the prior eaglet post, 

Although the wings are a bit ragged and not yet filled in they are nearly as long as Albert's wings. At this point the eaglet is truly turning into a juvenile. In the near future we should see lots of wing flapping on the edge of the nest to help strengthen and build muscle. This will be followed by "branching". Which includes hopping, skipping, jumping and fluttering to near by branches. Then, possibly as early as July 4th, the eaglet should make its first flight e.g. fledge.

Since the feather growth is so curiously intriguing here is one more photo that shows the current stage of the process.

After fledging in theory the eaglet should hang around the nest for most of the summer, while the parents provide training and food supplements. By fall and definitely before winter the young bird will be out on its own. Given this quick track to independence would you like to venture a guess on how long it will be until this bird reaches maturity?

What would you think one year, two years or three years. Actually it takes four to five years before their heads and tails turn white, their beaks become bright yellow and they are ready to pick a mate, claim a territory, build a nest and raise young. 

During this time eagles commonly gather in fairly large groups. These gatherings are usually convened around an abundant food source. Here is an example of an eagle that is nearing maturity, but not quite there.

These photos were taken two weeks ago, when this eagle along with many others, was fishing at low tide on Hood Canal.

Clearly this eagle has learned to feed itself and is almost prepared to become a provider.
It is interesting to compare this birds markings with mature eagles like Eva and Albert.

Two weeks ago Bill Anderson pointed out some potential methods of telling male and female eagles apart. One suggestion was, in essence, that the female has less of a forehead. Can you pick out Eva from the two preceding photos?

(It is my belief that Eva is in the second photo. I have yet to see scientific proof for this theory, but it sure looks like it works to me. Thank you to Bill for the concept. To see some of Bill's photos and photos of Bill, Click Here.

While observing the nest this week Albert was seen to fairly consistently use only his left foot to support his weight. In the photo above he uses both feet and it does not appear that he is having any problems with his right foot. It just makes one wonder if eagles an have a favorite foot, just like we tend to favor one hand over the other. 

In any case if you are a passenger (not the driver, please) in a car on 520 you might watch to see if you notice Albert sitting on one of the light poles, using only his left foot.

Curiously Eva does not appear to have a favorite foot. By the way, now that the eaglet appears to be quite capable of defending itself, Eve is spending more time hunting. This includes sitting on a 520 light pole and watching for fish, particularly fish freshly caught by smaller birds. Eagles clearly believe that might makes right.

Also here is a one last video where Eva and Albert say good night.

Click Here (These are the calls of the adults, not the eaglet.)

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city.


Odds and Ends:

Next week's post is looking like it may be about a Downy Woodpecker Chick(s). The nest is in the Arboretum near the Chinese Empress tree. If you stand under the Empress tree and using binoculars look high in the nearby snag you can see the nest and maybe the chick. The Empress has or had purple flowers, most have fallen now, and is located north of the Don Graham Visitor's Center, just before you get to the water. It still looks a bit like the photo at the end of this prior post.


  1. Larry: My friend Terry, his wife Leanna, and I were at Seabeck today (Sat. 6/8) photographing eagles in the low tide. I believe we saw the sub-adult pictured in your article.
    Bill Anderson; Edmonds, WA.

    1. That is possible. My photos were taken two weeks ago Sunday at Big Beef Creek, just up the road. I hope you had better weather, although the rain wasn't too heavy, no matter it is always great to see the eagles at work.

  2. Hi I think your friend is right about the foreheads on the sexes. With crows the males have a bigger head with darker puffier feathers. I still have a hell of a time telling them apart as individuals except the banded and gimpy ones. And believe me I have tried robin

    1. Thank you! I guess I need to pay closer attention to the crows. I did notice one with red at the corners of its beak the other day. Given how bright and clean its feathers were I figured it was a fledgling. Thanks for your thoughts.