A lot of folks have been asking about what’s been happening with our Bald Eagle pair lately, so here’s a little rundown of recent events…
Hurricane Ian totally destroyed the nest in early October. Shortly after the hurricane, an “intruder” male eagle was observed on and near the nest tree. This was a cause for concern since Bald Eagles are very territorial. Some skirmishes were observed with the three eagles. At one point, two of the eagles began building an alternate nest in a large pine tree by the lake. However, they soon abandoned that idea and returned to building at their old location. The third eagle was still seen occasionally during this time period.
Right now we are back to two eagles, but are unsure if the male is our original male (Freedom) or the “intruder” male. We are hoping that our EagleWatch support here in Lake Placid can eventually help with that determination based on previous data and photographs.
The exciting news is that we know there is at least one egg in the nest at this time. We are guessing that egg was laid on Christmas Day since incubation behavior (constantly sitting in the nest) was noticed the next day. Eggs are usually laid three days apart, so there may be more than one egg in the nest now. In most cases, eagles will lay two eggs. They occasionally lay three, and on very rare occasions they will lay four.
When Bald Eagles are incubating, you usually can only see their head above the edge of the nest. If you watch for any length of time, you may see that eagle fly up and around a bit to “stretch its wings,” and then go immediately back to the nest, roll the eggs over, and sit back down–sometimes facing the opposite direction from before. Both eagles share in this duty, but the female does most of this work. The male will continue to bring additional nesting material, and he will bring food for the female. He will take his turn at the nest when the female needs a break.
The Bald Eagle incubation period is generally 34-36 days, so we can hopefully expect to see at least one baby by the end of January.
Bald Eagle nests in Florida are monitored by Audubon Florida’s EagleWatch Program in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Currently, 620 volunteers are monitoring 1466 nests. As everyone knows, Bald Eagles are protected, as are all raptors. Any disturbance of an eagles’ nest should be reported to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Program at 888-404-3922. Also, if you are tempted to try to get a closer look at an eagles’ nest with a drone, please read this blog entry to understand the consequences of such an action.