Tuesday, December 08 2015 @ 11:48 PM EST
Contributed by: JudyB
The Stories Behind the Pictures
As I was selecting images to give people an idea of all the things they might see at their adopted nest in the coming year (click here for more information on adopting a nest), I realized that not only were these striking images - but every one tells a story. And since I never could resist a good story, I want to share them with you.
This great screenshot by forum member yojopro shows Putter from Harrison Mills using his egg tooth to break out of the shell. You can see his beak in the hole he's created, and the white spot at the tip is the egg tooth he'll use to chip a line all around the center of the egg, weakening the shell so he'll be able to push it apart - and hatch! The pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cams we have at Delta 2, Harrison Mills and White Rock provide incredible close-ups like this, and are helping us learn more about things like how exactly eaglets hatch.
This is Lima at White Rock on July 1st, a week or so before fledging, feeling the wind and getting ready, with thanks to enchantedeagles for getting the screenshot. The eaglets usually spend a week or two branching - moving onto branches near the nest, and hop-flying a bit further each day as they learn just what those huge wings can do! I will mention that often several observers get similar images (spotted also had a great one of this moment) - and it's the luck of the draw which one I saw first while looking for images.
This screen capture (or s'cap) by mjb shows Pa Lafarge and a female eagle we've been calling Lady Lafarge whom we hope will become his new mate. The last year has been challenging for the Lafarge eagles. First, their nest tree at the Lafarge cement plant on the Vancouver waterfront was destroyed in a windstorm in October 2014. The folks at Lafarge knew the tree was vulnerable and had arranged with David Hancock to have an artificial nest built nearby - and we hoped they would nest there, but they chose to use a nest they'd used before moving to Lafarge, about a half mile away. They fixed up the nest, and ground observers saw two chicks! Then more sad news - when the chicks were about 7-1/2 weeks old, Ma Lafarge flew into a power line and died. Pa stepped up to the plate, and not only brought all the food needed by two large, hungry eaglets, but also spent his nights perched beside the nest protecting them, as Ma would have done - and both eaglets fledged successfully! This fall we've been seeing a new female spending a lot of time at the artificial nest - and local observers have seen her spending time at the alternate nest - and we're seeing her and Pa spending time together, as in the picture here. New pairs don't always nest the first year - but sometimes they do - and we're watching eagerly to see if Pa and Lady start preparing one of the nests - and which one they will choose.
This great s'cap of the male at Delta 2 was captured on November 19 by Lavender12, though others got similar s'caps. Dad D2 has a dot in the iris of his eye which isn't easy to see in the smaller pictures I'm posting here (it's in the middle, just to the right of the pupil), but can be seen more clearly in the full-size version (see insert), and confirmed for us that this was indeed the same male as last year - and this again shows the wonderful detail our excellent zoomers can get with our great high-definition pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras.
This lovely picture of the female at the White Rock nest was captured by AnniesKatz on November 10th. It shows how the eagles make their presence known throughout their territory during the pre-nesting season - just in case another eagle might try to move in. It also shows the detail we can get with our cameras quite a ways out - the insert shows her landing at that location before the cam zoomed in, and the wide-view image it was taken from is the same size and resolution as the zoomed in image.
This is another shot that amazes me - these are feathers coming in on Putter, the younger eaglet at Harrison Mills last year, on June 4th, when he was 4-1/2 weeks old. IrishEyes knows that I am interested in feather development, so she took close-ups of the feathers coming in every few days - and our wonderful cams made this beautifully clear shot possible.
This screenshot by IrishEyes is two-day-old Driver from Harrison Mills, next to the egg that will become Putter two days later. It never fails to amaze me how fast eaglets grow - can you really imagine that Driver fit into an egg just like that only two days earlier? If you look closely, you can see the white of Driver's egg tooth on the top of her beak as she looks at the cam.
Sometimes an observer is there at just the right moment - and yojopro was fast enough to catch this great screenshot of one of the adults at Lafarge flying off the artificial nest right at the cam! I think this is new female Lady - and am hoping she'll lure Pa Lafarge over to the artificial nest so we can see them get to know each other - and hopefully raise a family on the nest that was prepared just for them.
This great s'cap by sydie shows both of the Delta 2 adults perched on power poles, watching over their territory. This is another example of both how good our cams are - this is a long ways from the nest, and you can clearly see eagles there - and how good our zoomers are - they were able to see the tiny bumps that suggested eagles were perching there, and zoomed in for a closer look. We are very thrilled that the Delta 2 pair has apparently accepted the starter nest we built for them after their nest came down in a fall windstorm - and are enjoying seeing where else they perch as they keep watch over their territory in the off season.
You never know what you might see in one of our nests - marilynfromkentucky recently caught a visit by an owl to the Delta 2 nest. Owls often use nests built by other birds - but I do not think our Delta 2 pair is interested in subletting their nest! We've all learned a lot about what happens at night since adding cams with infrared or night vision - which the eagles cannot see, but which lets us see all the action.
DDuckies2 got this great screenshot of a pair of eagles perched in a tree at the edge of the White Rock territory, looking for fish in Boundary Bay. Seeing them so close to the White Rock nest, one might well guess that it was the White Rock pair - but one of them was perched much closer to the nest, keeping an eye on the visitors. The White Rock and Harrison Mills nests are both in locations where lots of eagles pass through in search of salmon and other fish, and the resident pairs keep an eye on them and defend their nests - but seem OK with other eagles relatively nearby during the non-nesting season.
Thanks to the wonderful cameras that are available now, I've been blessed to see several eaglets hatch - this is Driver at Harrison Mills. See how she chipped almost the whole way around her shell before pushing the two halves apart - and I love that cute little wing sticking out at the top. It takes 12-36 hours for them to go from the external pip (the first hole to the outside world, as shown in the first of the screenshots) to a true hatch, where they are completely out of the shell - and they do it without any coffee! Seriously, I am still amazed and awed every time I see this. This s'cap is mine.
This great s'cap by AnniesKatz is a companion piece to the closeup of Putter showing his feathers coming in - this is Kilo and Lima at White Rock when they were almost 5 weeks old, showing the interesting pattern of their feather development when seen from above. It's funny - I've seen newly hatched chickens and I've seen adult chickens - but until I started watching eagle cams, I never actually thought about how birds went from fluffy to feathered!
This great capture by maisy6041 shows the female at Delta 2 peeking out at the cam from behind a branch. Ma Delta has quite a story to tell - she broke her left leg in early 2014 (the injury was observed February 8) - most likely during a territorial fight with another female. Amazingly, even though she couldn't put weight on the leg, she apparently was able to mate successfully - both of their eggs hatched, and they fledged two chicks. The pair laid two eggs in 2015 but something disrupted their nesting and neither hatched - which might have been a blessing in disguise as it gave Ma Delta time to heal. They are back this year looking strong - and we've seen her standing on her injured leg while stretching her good leg, so while her leg might be shorter, it looks as if she's regained the strength she needs to defend her nest - and raise her chicks.
Eaglenut got this great screenshot of the White Rock family on May 5, when the chicks were about two weeks old. What looks like scruffy patches on the eaglet with his or her back to the cam is really the darker second coat of down coming in, which helps the chicks regulate their temperature so they don't have to be brooded constantly. There was an intruder in the area earlier that day, which might be why Dad is keeping watch while Mom feeds Kilo and Lima.
This was a great capture by forum member stim - following up on the earlier information about Ma Delta, this may have been the first time we saw her bring a stick to the nest, back at the end of October. And I'm not sure that I mentioned that the pair has a new nest this year - their old one blew down in a windstorm at the end of August, and forum members, zoomers, chatters, and others who enjoyed watching these eagles pitched in to raise the $7000 needed to build a starter nest in a nearby tree where the pair often perched, and install two cameras to see how they would react - and it appears that they accepted our gift, and are now busy making it their own.
Karenbills got this lovely s'cap of Kilo and Lima at White Rock when Kilo was one day old, and Lima was less than 6 hours old (did I mention how fast eaglets grow?). As you have seen, our cams can provide amazing closeups - but this is one of those times that I think a wider view is more powerful, as it shows how tiny they are, compared to Mom - all the more amazing when you consider that in 10-12 weeks they will be nearly as big or bigger than she is (female eagles are generally bigger than males, and fledglings are generally bigger than adults because their initial feathers are longer, making it easier for them to fly).
Until we had cameras with night vision, I would see young eaglets tucked in under an adult as it began to get dark - and assumed they'd stay there all night. Now I know that isn't always the case! Putter and Driver from Harrison Mills were up for a snack at 9 pm - which was definitely after sunset! And I've seen older chicks who aren't being brooded get up and nibble on leftovers in the middle of the night (we won't discuss why I'm watching an eagle cam at 2 am!). Thanks to amd for this great screenshot of the 9 and 13 day old chicks - and if you look closely, you'll see that older eaglet Driver has the same scruffy patches on her elbows as the 2-week-old White Rock chicks, showing she was also getting her second coat of down.
This great screenshot by amyklai shows one of the White Rock chicks hiding in a nearby tree a couple of days after fledging, or taking his or her first flight away from the nest tree. I'm not sure which fledgling it was - but the zoomer did a great job finding him or her, as dark juvies blend in very well.
This is another wonderful closeup - breakfast for two-day-old Driver at Harrison Mills, captured by sunshinecoast. I've been watching eagle cams for almost 10 years - and I'm still amazed how adults can use those big, fierce beaks to break off a tiny piece of fish or meat, and angle it just right so the wobbly little chick can reach up and grab it. And Mr. and Mrs. Honeycomb (the official names given to the adults at Harrison Mills) had an extra challenge - their chicks hatched 4 days apart, so Driver, the older one, was getting strong and very good at grabbing food while newly-hatched Putter was having trouble staying upright and figuring out how to face forward - which means the adults had to feed Driver bigger chunks of food quickly, then gently offer Putter the very tiny chunks he needed the first few hours. Happily they are great parents, and made it look easy.
I included this image in the collage of what you might see when you adopt an eagle nest just because. Most of the pictures show stages in eaglet development or behaviors of eagles - this s'cap from Delta 2 by byline is just beautiful. And all of our cameras - even the Lafarge camera in the middle of the busy Vancouver waterfront - offer amazing moments of total beauty. Enjoy!
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