Should the Starving Eaglet be Fed?


To Help or Not to Help! -- That is the Question!!!!!!!

If any one topic has dominated my personal email or been featured on the WEB CAM forum it has been about giving the eaglets a supplemented food source. The need has arisen because of the perceived shortage of food brought to the nest by the adults. At least at some times food appears to be lacking -- and one chick is developing more slowly. It is so apparent that the smaller chicklet is frequently bullied out of food by the dominant one. This of course is nature's way of assuring that at least one chick has the best chance of survival. But what a hard lesson to watch!

Should we be interfering or not? Here is my quick answer to one of the many questions addressing this issue. Perhaps it is more questioning than answering!

==== Answer to Fernando's question by biologist David Hancock =>>>>>>>>

Should the Starving Eagle be Fed? cont....

Answer presented by biologist David Hancock

HI Fernando:

Great questions. This topic is one of the major concerns to be addressed by all people involved with conservation.

I see from the 100 plus emails on this issue that I have received most people want to supplement the food supply and this seems the overwhelming position of even many more comments on the CAM forum. Is food -- fish carcasses -- left on the beach by the natives an unacceptable level of assistance? If at times no fish carcasses are available should some be put out to supplement the eagles?

The level of interference is what is debatable. To help or not to help -- that is the question!

Emotionally it is easily answered -- sure, do what you can. From the conservation of the species issue -- not quite so straight forward, but almost as simple -- a yes. But from certain purist positions it is more easily rejected.

Certainly in the urban environment almost all the food could be considered supplemented. Road killed rats or kittens or rabbits or fish parts thrown out at fish cleaning stations along the urban shores have for generations all been both natural food sources OR artificial. It depends on how you look at the issue. For scavengers like the bald eagle it must be difficult to differentiate between dead carcasses on a spawning river or washed up on a beach and those lying around the city streets.

Is putting up a pole for ospreys to nest on -- when their natural stumps have been removed -- different from allowing the bald eagle to nest on a power pole? We presently have the bald eagle invading the city and they have now started to raise young on electrical poles and cell towers. Is putting up a pole in the safest place -- perhaps where we earlier cut down all their nest trees acceptable? This is going to stress the camps!

Some people are against both human interferences -- only the natural way must prevail; some against only the latter (here eagles must be considered different from ospreys?): some say that it is humans who have screwed up the natural elements and we have to do something to assist nature on the way back. We are simply not going to remake or keep the city totally natural so preserving what best habitat elements we can, supplemented by other help, may be the best compromise.

I would love to hear your comments on this issue?

Thanks for your interest
David Hancock


=========== Note from viewer that prompted above ==================

At 08:30 AM 6/25/2006, you wrote: (From Fernando of Montreal)
He is addressing earlier suggestions from CAM followers that the starving eaglet be either removed because it was being starved, or that additional food be put out for the adults to take to the nest. I had commented that it would jepardize the nest being used next year if the nest was climbed to remove the starving young.

Mr. Hancock,

You wrote Jun 20: "We still have some concern that the parents have a territory not producing enough food"

also: "......when adult eagles see that a nest is violated, by someone climbing into it......."

Never cross my mind to climb the tree. There was a Monday where the Eaglets got a lot of Salmon from the First Nations Reserve near by. Couldn't there be somebody controlling the daily intake and compensate by giving some extra easy Salmon to this eaglets?

Yesterday Saturday 24 there were 6 small meals (3 for each) and then nothing the entire afternoon.

If the Eaglets don't keep fat in their bodies, they must be feeling hungry now.

If they need food to complete their development, can somebody give some food to the parents so they can finish raising these eaglets?

thanks for the attention to this email

Fernando Fernald
Montreal, Canada

========= end ===========

Fernando came back with an almost instant response: here it is. me again

The natural way is suppose to be the best lway. But all the urban problem and pollution is making problems for the eagles. If the nest is being used year after year, if people will keep building nearby making those rabbits go away and other food sources disappear, the eagles might go hungry for a day or 2, maybe more.

My suggestion is to gave them food, just not that much. If enough food reaches the nest for both eagles at once (food given by humans), going one day with low levels of food I think is going to be acceptable by those eaglets. If the parents do poorly one day, human help might be considered. I don't want fat eagles. I want healthy eagles.

The Salmon-Monday-Feast was amazing to watch, but I for one think was too much on one meal.

Artificial nests sound like a good idea if the conditions are close to the natural trees. Anything to put a distance from power lines. I prefer to do something for them than just to watch how they have problems that they can't solve. They already depend on us not harming their ancestral nesting place.

Fernando Fernald

================== end =========

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Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 02:49 PM EDT Should the Starving Eaglet be Fed?
its sad to watch...the youngest eaglet is having a real hard time. I know that nature provides for the strong but because of over development , sometimes nature is wrong.
I really don't see a problem with giving mom and dad a little hand. You say you can't intervene or fool around with mother nature but you already did by putting a camera up there for the world to watch. I don't need a lesson in the cruelty of nature , I went a lesson in compassion.
Lily Cranford
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Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 05:24 PM EDT Should the Starving Eaglet be Fed?
To simply say this is natures way is archaic. Without medicines and research, humans would not fight cancer or other illnesses. If you feel the babys are starving it is our duty as human beings to provide nutrition. They seem so close to adulthood. Their lives far outweigh the argument that this is nature's way. I would suggest that as you already decided to intefere with their lives by erecting a crane to observe them you must also be responsible for their lives. It always amazes me how people think for just one moment that starving or dying is outweighed by "natures will" Please provide food somehow. We are supposed to be the most inteligent species on this earth. Let's try to use that intelligence Save these babies.
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