Linux, the eaglet at the Delta 2 nest, began branching by stepping out onto the branches next to the nest the morning of June 29, 2012, when he was 79 days old, or a bit over 11 weeks.
For the next couple of days, he enjoyed hiding by stepping out of sight, with only a few feathers showing, and then leaping back into the nest, showing us his big wings.
And he did a lot of flapping, getting some nice height.
And he looked up.
And the morning of July 2nd, he made it up into the branches he'd been studying so carefully.
He'd jump back down into the nest when a parent arrived, but then would head back up into the branches. At first he just looked around - but he soon was moving back and forth, from one branch to another.
Watching him explore the branches, stretch his wings, and feel the wind, it was obvious that he was getting ready to see the world beyond the nest.
As the sun went down on July 2, Linux stayed up in the branches, sleeping like an adult, perched on a branch.
We expected that July 3rd would be much the same as July 2nd, with Linux doing a lot of mini-flights up to the branches and back to the nest, and up to the branches, and back - and so on, building up his muscles and coordination - and challenging the amazing team of "zoomers" who had volunteered to control the pan-tilt-zoom cam at Delta 2. And for a while, that is indeed what happened.
Then at 3:13 pm...