As many of you know since February I have been frequently spending time at a bald eagle nest not far from my home in Cambridge, Ontario.

Well, the nest has attracted a lot of attention lately. That’s because the three eaglets have now fledged – after much practice flapping of wings the past three weeks. Two made clean flights between the tops of trees adjacent to the nest on Saturday (June 13th) and, despite being given a less than friendly welcome by other residents, such as the aggressive red winged blackbirds, they have returned after these flights to be fed.

This one enjoyed a trip up river checking out his surroundings:

This bald eagle fledgling encountered one of his neighbours, an aggressive red winged blackbird on his first day of flying.

The third, which we believe tumbled out of the nest a week ago and, since then, was perched in some foliage thirty feet below the nest, had caused observers much anxiety. Screeching loudly out of fear and hunger I really thought she was doomed. Was she injured in her fall? I wondered. Would the adults leave her to her own devices or would they feed her? I had never heard of instances where stranded eaglets got food delivered and the way into the branch was covered by thick foliage.

 I was reminded that there’s only a fifty – fifty chance that eaglets will live to their first birthday.

On Saturday morning one of the adults was seen delivering a fish to the noisy one in an incredible display of parenting. So, not all hope was lost. A short while later this beautiful bird left the branch which had been her perch for six days, circled the area below, then crash landed into some leaves. She, I believe she is female since she appears bigger than her siblings, hung upside down in the foliage for a few minutes before righting herself.

 

She spent another night alone on that branch and was in the same place when I returned Sunday. There were several other photographers and birders out Sunday morning. But after they left the scene in the afternoon, much to my delight, she found the courage to fly. I should point out that I am not antisocial I just had a hunch that she would be less inhibited with the crowd gone. Within forty minutes she hopped between branches then made the plunge.

Here she is taking a short practice flight between trees:

Summoning the courage to set out across the Nith River:

And, then? Liftoff and her flight up river.

Though she appeared to be trying to get up to the nest she couldn’t summon the strength to climb. I am not surprised. I have seen the adults struggle on windy days or when they are carrying a duck, for example, back for dinner. Instead she flew up river and probably landed on a tree in the nearby woods. I tried to spot her from my vantage point but I could not. I do hope she can find her way back.

Certainly, I will be back there as often as possible to monitor the progress of these magnificent birds.

13 Comments

    1. Paul E Gains

      Hey Wayne! Thanks for your note. I was back at the river tonight and was treated to a remarkable display of flying by two of the eaglets. The one I wrote about is apparently down river, having been heard by a wildlife enthusiast. Hope she gets back to get some supper at the nest!

  1. Ron Craigen

    Great shots Paul. The feathers on those wings when fully spread in flight are magnificent. Interesting to see that little red winged blackbird chasing away the intruding eaglet. The eagles simply have to put up with such occasional harassment since the small birds can turn on a dime and vanish into deep foliage before the eagles can manage to negotiate a turn.

    1. Paul E Gains

      Thanks Ron. Yes, the eaglets had a lesson on their first day flying. While perched in a tree, before the attack by the red winged blackbird, the eaglet also had to fend off a Baltimore Oriole that didn’t like it being in that spot. Isn’t nature wonderful?

  2. Bruce MacNeil

    Great series of shots and story Paul. Thanks for sharing. Don’t know if you got a shot of the female yesterday with the Oriole sitting on the branch above it. I have a not so good shot that I can send you if you are interested. Once again, nice talking to you yesterday.

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