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

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Out On A Limb

This July 9th, 2020 photo proves Tsuloss has begun branching.

It is hard to believe this small white eaglet, photographed on April 26th, is the same bird. She has probably replaced every feather on her body, gained close to ten pounds, increased her wingspan by close to six feet, and done it all in less than three months.

On July 3rd, Tsuloss was focused on feather cleaning and alignment. Her eaglet down appeared to be gone but her new feathers still needed to be aligned to maximize lift as she begins preparations for her first flight. 

Sadly, I am not certain of Tsuloss' gender. However, female Bald Eagles are usually larger than their mates. (This distinction is primarily useful when you see two adult birds side by side.) Nonetheless, Tsuloss' size is impressive. I am guessing, she is a female.

Possibly because of the weight difference, juvenile females are slower to develop than males. If we estimate Tsuloss was ten days old when first photographed, that would make her 92 days old as of July 17th. All About Birds estimates the nestling period is 56 to 98 days. This implies that Tsuloss should learn to fly within the next week. If you are planning a visit to see her in the nest - the sooner the better! 

The nest is located on the southeast corner of Montlake Cut. You do not need to worry about disturbing her. I suspect the nearby sewer replacement, highway construction, and the constant flow of boats through Montlake Cut has thoroughly acclimated her to humans and noise.

However, when it comes to taking her first flight she does seem to be behind schedule. Which might be another reason to assume she is female. Larger birds need extra time to reach their full size and potential. In this July 6th photo, she apparently just walked out on the easily accessed northern limb, attached at the same height as the nest.

On July 8th, she walked a bit further. When Monty returned to the nest, possibly with food, she did not fly (or even walk) over to investigate.

The parents no longer need to be constantly near the nest to protect her. Tsuloss' new feathers can handle the elements just fine.

Plus, with her fully-grown talons and bill, she could probably handle most predators as well. I suspect any predators capable of reaching the nest, will wish they hadn't.

I am often asked how to tell the difference between a young Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle. One easy difference is that Golden Eagles have feathers covering their complete tarsus. In this photo, we can see the feathering near the lower portion of a Tsuloss' tarsus looks a lot like 'high-water' pants revealing an exposed ankle.

Also, as far as I know, Golden Eagles don't reside in cities.

On July 9th, as in our initial photo, we see Tsuloss spreading her wings. However, this appeared to be mostly a response to the wind and not a part of a consistent exercise regime.

As impressive as her wingspan and feather development is, she needs to be regularly working the wings to develop muscle strength. While I have not been at the nest around the clock, I still have not seen her flapping her wings with the expected consistency required to develop flight strength.

This July 11th photo, shows her still walking on the northern 'easy-access' branch.

On the positive side, when she reached the end of the flat portion of the branch she flew-hopped approximately two feet up onto the outer portion of the branch, where she could watch the boats passing through Montlake Cut.

This week, Tsuloss has finally taken the next step in the process. She has moved out to a westward pointing branch. I have watched her fly-hop from the branch back to the nest. She kind of scrambles into the nest, which may tend to pull it apart. Hopefully, her flight skills improve rapidly.

Earlier this week, after she returned to the nest she hurried out onto the northern branch. She was apparently trying to get a better look at Monty, who flew in and landed in a tree at the east end of the nesting grove. She was probably hoping for food delivery.

Now is an important time for all of us to be watching out for Tsuloss. At this point, if she leaves the nest I suspect at best she might glide to the ground. Even if she lands safely, I doubt she would have the strength to return to the nest. It is also possible she could easily be injured coming down. From what I have read, leaving the nest may be the most dangerous moment in an eagles life.

I would rather see her spend the next few weeks constantly flapping her wings and learning to move about in the nesting tree. 

Exploring the upper branches would give her multiple opportunities to practice short flights, precise landings, and functional takeoffs. Even though the branch to the west requires a small flight-hop, it is still at almost exactly the same height as the nest, and not enough of a challenge. I believe, she needs to work her way higher in the tree to properly develop her skills.

It also would not be surprising for her to remove some small branches and leaves, so she has room to extend her wings and practice. Over many more years, the Bald Eagles in Broadmoor have nearly denuded the tree above their nest. 

In regards to our contest to guess the date of Tsuloss' first flight, the pool of likely winners is rapidly shrinking. Early August or late July are still full of days when she may take to the air.  Feel free to send in a new or revised date on which you think she will take her maiden voyage.

The last few feasible flight dates are:

August 2nd - Tyler Mangum
August 3rd - Sue

The rules for this impromptu, prize-less contest are:

A) I plan to only publish the name associated with the first entry I receive for each date. I want to encourage the widest variety of dates as possible.

B) Practice hops do not count e.g. when the young eagle flaps, lifts up and then comes right back down in the nest.  Also branching - hopping from branch to branch - does not count. Tsuloss must leave the air space above the nest (and come out of the tree).

C) Falling does not count. Tsuloss must leave the nest and exhibit an ability to stay in the air. However, if you do see Tsuloss fall from the nest and land on the ground, especially if she is unable to fly, please call:

 Lynnwood PAWS at 425-787-2500

PAWS has rehabilitated and released 3 out of Tsuloss's 4 siblings during the last 2 years. (The fourth sibling did not require assistance.)

The following information may help you make a more accurate guess:

Eaglet Patrol - The post suggesting when Tsuloss might have hatched.

Tsuloss - The last eagle update.

By the way, Tsuloss is most easily seen with binoculars from the north side of Montlake Cut. The nest site is shown on this Union Bay Map.

My email address is: ldhubbell@comcast.net

Naming Update:

There is evidently more than one way to pronounce the number five in the Lushootseed language. Aaron Peterson sent in this interesting update. 

Clicking Here will enable you to find the word for five and the link to the pronunciation guide, which I originally used. 


By the way, there are some interesting developments taking place with the Red-breasted Nuthatches, which were covered in last week's Social Distancing post. Once the current action resolves I will write and post the conclusion to their nesting story.


Have a great day on Union Bay...where Black Birders are always welcome!

Black Lives Matter,

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. I hope 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. 

By the way, my friend Tom Brown pointed out that the application named 'Wildflower Search' is extremely helpful. Click on the highlighted link to see for yourself.

What species is this? Is it native to Western Washington?

Scroll down for the answer.


Henderson Checker Mallow: This is a beautiful plant. The specimen in the photograph was seen near Arboretum Creek - just across from Boyer St. To the best of my ability, I believe this plant is correctly identified. If so, it is native to our area. Confirmation or education are both welcome.


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


Here is one more photo for those who read to the end.


  1. I walked over to the cut this morning and no Tsuloss that I could see. Has she flown? Another birder seemed confident that she had. To compensate, I have young begging Merlins flying into our cedars and being fed. Nature is grand.

    1. Yes! I also looked for her yesterday morning. I suspected she was down in the nest resting and or avoiding the construction noise. However, I was wrong. More to follow!

  2. Thanks for the excellent post and photos. You have made me much more aware of the challenges a young eagle faces. Best wishes to Tsuloss!