This time of year is an exciting one at the Nith River eagles’ nest as the three fledglings I have been observing are getting themselves into various predicaments and yet, somehow, managing to get back to the nest at meal times.
As I have noted in a previous blog these eaglets often crash land on branches never meant to hold their weight. They are full grown at this point – despite their immaturity and clumsiness.
My heart stopped the other day when I saw one of the trio literally fall through a succession of branches and hit the ground with an audible thud. Horrified, I waited fifteen minutes before exploring the area and quite expected to find a critically injured bird in need of rescue. But I couldn’t find it.
I looked around the area for a few moments and thankfully spotted it – perched safely in a tree. Amazing resilience but, more than that, a valuable lesson to be more careful.
While the eaglets have been entertaining I have not forgotten the incredible parenting skills of the two adults. They are devoted parents and although they might be difficult to spot they are never too far away from the nest. The adult female flew to this dead tree one evening last week and sat there panting from the heat.
The adults leave the young ones alone for hours upon end which is all part of ensuring they gain independence. Surely they can hear their offspring calling out for food yet they hold off until necessary. Eventually, they arrive with a fish, drop it off in the nest as an incentive for the eaglets to return, then take up a position close by.
I must confess I have had better luck with the eagles flying about when nobody else is around. I am not as excited about photographing them flying overhead. I love it when they fly at or near eye level.
A couple of days ago the female came out of a tree then circled low before cruising just above the river. I don’t know if she was after a fish or perhaps a mink but she flew past me a couple of times very low which always makes for nice images.
A local resident tells me that, over the past eight years, this adult pair has successfully raised 20 eaglets in that Nith River nest. That’s quite a contribution to the Grand River region of southwestern Ontario.
Yesterday, I watched this adult female chase away a red tailed hawk that it perceived as a threat to her ‘babies’.
I must, once again, emphasize that these eagles need their space and we must keep our distance. Approaching them too closely could result in stressing them and causing an outcome that could result in injury, especially to the young ones. I shudder when I see dogs off leash because it wouldn’t surprise me to see an eaglet on the ground.
All of these photos on my website have been taken from a safe distance and are the results of exercising patience for the eagle to choose where and when it is going to fly. On occasion I have found it necessary to back off when I have stumbled upon an eaglet in a low hanging branch or near the ground.
Above all it is necessary to remember the wildlife photographer’s number one rule – if a bird or an animal alters its behaviour then I am too close.
Besides, allowing the eagle to come nearer on its own terms makes for a better picture than a shot of its rear end as it flies away.
It is indeed an interesting time to observe these eagles, a time to treasure nature. So, get out and enjoy nature!!!