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

On Instagram and Twitter: @unionbaywatch

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Eaglets!

Whenever I see Eva and Albert sitting calmly in their nesting tree, it creates an inner sense of peacefulness and bliss. For a moment, I feel as if all is right with the world. 

An aircraft gliding by reminds me of our ever-growing need for harmony with nature. I believe the first step towards harmony is paying attention. If you have ever watched or listened to musicians singing in harmony, you may have noticed the intensity of their effort, their focus on the rhythm and pitch of their partners. Working together, they produce music which is greater than the sum of their individual voices.

By early March, Eva and Albert were spending more and more time around their Broadmoor nest.

On March the 9th the behavior changed. From this point forward, one of them was almost always sitting low in the nest. If you zoom in, you can just barely detect the upper half of an eagle head in the middle of the nest. This new routine made me think Eva had laid at least one egg and was beginning incubation. With approximately 35 days for incubation, the first egg should have hatched in mid-April. Initially, the eaglet or eaglets were too small and too weak to stand and be seen from the ground.

In mid-April, I watched one of the adults take a couple of passes at waterfowl in Duck Bay. The lucky ducks escaped. The eagle headed back in the direction of the Broadmoor nest. 

The eagle stopped to rest and preen just south of Foster Island. Whenever I see them by themselves, I always struggle to identify them. This bird was clearly in Eva and Albert's domain and apparently headed back towards the nest, but which one was it?

When I looked closely I was excited to see an oval marking on the left side of the eagle's bill - just below the nostril. I wondered if this was permanent. Would this mark be something I could use to uniquely identify this eagle in the future?

The right side of the bill was unmarked.

 
While we are on the subject of identifying eagles, during the last month I have noticed that Monty, the male from the new nest near Montlake Cut, is partially missing a feather on his right wing. I am not sure how long it will take for the feather to grow back. In the mean time, the gap is a useful means of identifying him.

Needless to say, I have been watching Eva, Albert and their nest fairly closely. They are the pair which have been historically called, The 520 Eagles. Of course, with Monty and Marsha moving in along The Cut, they have new competition for the title.

I have been observing feeding behavior which is encouraging. On the other hand, I have spent a fair amount of time without actually seeing any eaglets.


Not only have I been looking for signs of their young in the nest, but I have also been watching for that unique mark on the left side of the bill. 

The distance involved has made discerning modest markings difficult.

Although when Albert passed fairly close, it was obvious that the left side of his beak is unblemished. I am now hoping for another similar close encounter with Eva.

On Tuesday morning, I finally got my first look at one of Eva and Albert's new nestlings. The whitish natal down is replaced fairly quickly, so I am thinking this eaglet is less than 3 weeks old. On the other hand, it is standing up and alert so I suspect it is probably more than a week old. So far, I have not seen any other eaglets. In years past, there have usually been two in the nest.

I am guessing the little brown extremity in this photo is a wing. I think the nearly invisible buds are where the flight feathers will soon pop out.

The best moment of the week was when Eva held up her wing behind the eaglet. I have seen hawks and osprey use their wings to mantle their food e.g. hide it from competitors, and once, from a great distance, I watched an eagle mantle her young. 

In this case, I cannot be positive what Eva was doing. I did not see any danger in the sky, and she was obviously not shielding the eaglet from the sun. However, when I reviewed the timestamps on my photos I found she held her wing in this position for 17 seconds. That makes me think the effort was intentional. 

I do believe Eva was attempting to protect her eaglet. (By the way, this morning I saw a second eaglet in the nest.) Especially for the first few weeks the young need protection. Their innocence and small size make them vulnerable. The adults' experience, knowledge and physical capabilities make them the highly capable parents. 

Even so, the next couple of months will be challenging for them as they strive to find enough food to feed their young. If all goes as expected, by the end of July these little eaglets will be larger than their parents! 

Have a great day on Union Bay...where eaglets hatch in the city!

Larry


Going Native:

Without a well-funded Environmental Protection Agency, it falls to each of us to be ever more vigilant in protecting our local environments. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and native creatures. I have been told that even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. My hope is that we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors and local businesses to respect native flora and to support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (If natives plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants.

My intention in my weekly post is to include at least one photo each week and visually challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms.


What species of plant is this? Is it native to Union Bay?







Scroll down for the answer.







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Fringe Cup: Is a native plant to Union Bay. I see it often in somewhat disturbed areas next to trails in the Arboretum. Click on the green link to learn more.












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The Email Challenge:

Over the years I have had many readers tell me that Google is no longer sending them email announcements regarding my posts. Even more frustrating when they go to 're-sign-up', hoping that will enable them to once again start receiving the announcements, they get a message which says 'Sorry, you are already signed up.' Google has not responded to my requests for help with this issue. 

My functional work around is to setup my own email list and each week I manually send out a new post announcement. If you are experiencing the issue and would like to be added to my personal email list please send me an email requesting to be added. Thank you for your patience!


My email address is LDHubbell@comcast.net


























2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post, Larry! It gives us a great chance to get close to these neighbors without disturbing them. I'm looking forward to the growth of the new little ones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. My thought is that if we know and care about are wild neighbors we will be more likely to lookout for their needs. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. 🙂

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