Norfolk Bald Eagles

Lessons from the Eagle Cam – So Far

Norfolk Bald Eagles
A friend of mine introduced me to this Bald Eagle Cam back in March. It is a web cam of a family of eagles – two adults and 3 young eaglets – living in nest 80-90 feet off the ground in a Loblolly pine at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Sometimes, being healthy is about taking mental breaks & relaxing. The Eagle Cam has been my mental break lately. I’ve grown to love that eagle family and have found lessons that can apply to all of us:

  1. Watch carefully over your children – Adult eagles never sleep soundly and are always alert. When there are eaglets in the nest, one parent is always close by to protect them.
  2. Protect your kids with your life – from predators and from rain. The mother eagle will cover the young babies, still covered in down, with her wings. Some call it a “Mombrella”.
  3. Parenting is a joint effort – sometimes mom brings the food, sometimes dad. Sometimes dad feeds the kids, sometimes mom feeds them, and at the best times, mom & dad feed the kids together.
  4. Don’t poo where you sleep. It’s instinct for even the baby eaglets to back up and point away from the nest when they do their business.
  5. Give your kids wings and they will learn to fly!
  6. No boomerang kids allowed – The kids leave the nest a few months after first flight or fledge – July to August. They aren’t welcome back because in the Fall the the parents are planning food their next brood.
  7. No food goes to waste. “Nestovers” hang around and are eaten as snacks later on.
  8. Dad is in charge of housekeeping! I love that idea!
  9. Flying is instinct, not something they learn from their parents. As they become strong enough, they begin an activity that some call “wingercizing”.
  10. Eagles learn to hunt for food on their own, after they leave the nest. They learn by observing other juvenile eagles and by stealing food. Not all of them are successful hunters, which is one reason that, on average, only 50% of baby eagles make it to adulthood – 5 years old.
  11. Tragedy is a part of life, but life goes on. On the morning of April 26th, the mama eagle was struck by an airplane and killed. I have to confess that I cried when I learned of her death. The next day, the three eaglets were moved to the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). They will remain at WCV until it is determined that they are old enough to be on their own – probably in August.

Norfolk Bald Eagle Family

Even though the eaglets have moved, there is still a web cam at the WVEC site where you can follow their progress.

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is our nation’s emblem and is the only eagle unique to North America. According to the American Bald Eagle Information site:

The bald eagle’s scientific name signifies a sea (halo) eagle (aeetos) with a white (leukos) head. At one time, the word “bald” meant “white,” not hairless.

I’ll be watching these eaglets until they leave WCV. I have been fascinated with watching them grow and learn. Amazing how much they grow in such a short period of time. They weighed approximately 2.5 ounces when they hatched. The oldest of the 3 eaglets is 2 months old today and weighed 9.5 pounds on Tuesday!

The decision to remove the eaglets from their nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens was made by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF). While there were people who felt that man shouldn’t interfere with nature in that manner, the decision was made because it would be in the best interest of the dad and the three eaglets. You can read more about that in this press release (PDF).

Other links:

Photo Credits: WVEC, WCV, DGIF, & NBG.

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