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

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Eagle Roles

During the first week of March, I noticed Eva and Albert, the Broadmoor Bald Eagle pair, perched above Duck Bay. They appeared to be enjoying the sunshine and each other's company. My best guess is, they were actually considering adding waterfowl to their morning menu.

Further to the northwest, Monty and Marsha were also sitting in the sun. The Montlake Cut pair were relaxing just beyond the invisible border which divides their neighboring territories. My impression is that the border aligns fairly close to the eastbound 520 on-ramp which originates in the Arboretum.

During fall and winter, it is common to find our local eagles paired-up and sitting quietly side-by-side. However, as the increasing solar intensity burns winter away, the local eagle behavior begins to change. Between now and autumn, there will not be many opportunities for the Eagles to get away from their nests and share relaxing moments sitting in the summer sun.

This is Monty and Marsha's new nest. It is about six feet below their original nest, which began to crumble last July. From our earthbound perspective, this new nest may look empty. I suspect it is not. The nest building, which we saw in last month's post, has virtually stopped. The nest has grown. It now appears to be fairly well-balanced and hopefully secure.

If you look closely you can faintly see small patches of white showing through the upper right portion of the nest. I believe this hint of white is reflecting from the feathers on Marsha or Monty's head.

On Tuesday, I first noticed what looked like nesting activity. From this angle, it seems obvious that one of the eagles has its head down in the middle of the nest, while the tips of its folded wings are pointed outward. I wondered what the eagle was doing? Was it simply adjusting the placement of a stick in the nest?

On Thursday, I caught a similar view. The nagging question in my mind was, had incubation begun? Was the eagle turning eggs to keep them uniformly warm? All I knew for certain was the eagle was focusing inward toward the middle of the nest.

Twenty minutes later, with her identifiable head showing, I could at least be positive that I was seeing Marsha in the nest.

Marsha's white head has a uniquely grayish-brown cast behind and below her eyes.

This close-up clearly displays her distinctive facial coloring.

A few moments later Monty arrived. When he landed just above the nest, Marsha abandoned her post and Monty took over duties in the nest. I have no way to actually see eggs in the nest, however, their clear exchange of roles convinced me that Monty and Marsha have initiated the parental process once again.

Yesterday, Monty appeared to be on-watch just a couple of trees away from the nest.

Marsha, on the other hand, was in the nest and voicing her displeasure with the crows overhead. It seems obvious, she is using her body to defend and protect eggs in the nest.

During the last year, Monty and Marsha seem to have learned a lot. The new nest is in the largest fork in the tree. The nest was started and completed about three weeks earlier than last year's nest. The timing of their egg-laying and incubation appears to be impeccable.

Although it is distant and difficult to see, one the of the Broadmoor Bald Eagles (Eva I presume) looks like she is also on eggs in her nest. Last year, I believe I first noticed Eva appearing to be on eggs on March 23rd. It sure looks like both nests are on a very similar schedule this year.

Given that it will take just over a month for the eggs to hatch, plus a week or two for the young to grow large enough to stand and be visible from the ground, I am estimating our first sighting of young eagles will be in the first or second week of May. If everything continues as expected, that would mean the young will be likely to be leaving the nest sometime in July. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of their offspring learned to fly on Independence Day?


A Wonderful Opportunity:

In the wonderful weekly post entitled 'Water Is Life', from my friends Dan Pedersen and Craig & Joy Johnson, mention the free screening of Craig and Joy's new movie, 'Birding Whidbey Island'. I was lucky enough to view an early release of the movie. The movie shows birding locations on Whidbey Island which I had never heard of and displays bird behaviors which I had never seen. Equally inspirational are Craig and Joy's absolute love and commitment to birds and nature. If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend seeing this movie.

The movie will be shown at 2pm tomorrow, March 24th, and also (at 2pm) on March 31st at the Clyde Theatre in downtown Langley, WA.


A Raven Update:

In the comments to last week's post, The Mythical Ravens, Ann recently wrote about seeing three ravens in Montlake this week. I am seeing one or two almost every day and very excited that they are still hanging around. Finding out about a third raven in the area triples the excitement.

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


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.

This wonderful native plant with the pinkish-red flowers is currently blooming. What is it called? 

Note: There are a couple of clues embedded in the first sentence.

Scroll down for the answer.



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 workaround is to set up 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


  1. What an exiting report of Eagles'nests, otherwise I have no way of knowing how they are doing. Thank you so much!!!

    1. You are very welcome! I am glad you enjoy the eagles and their story.

  2. Do the eagles up there eat mostly fish? The eagles down here west of Portland eat mostly waterfowl. Everything from Coots to Geese.

    1. I think what they eat depends on availability and demand e.g. the number of mouths in the nest. A month or so ago we saw the female eat a coot a day for three days in a row. We also saw her eating a fish during that time. Personally, I remember seeing eagles eating fish, a rat, a gull and many coots. I have seen carcasses of great blue herons and a pair of mallard wings beneath the nest tree. I have heard reports of a rabbit being taken. I think any type of meat is fair game, but waterfowl and fish seem to top the list.