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Watching Eaglets Grow

Bald Eagle BiologyI've recently added an area for eagle pictures and statistics to my website. At first glance, that may sound a bit redundant at best, given all the websites around the world with cams and discussion but as I wandered from site to site, enjoying the antics of the eaglets and wondering at the fact that some were near fledging while others were newly hatched, I found that something was missing.

I might notice that one eaglet has stubby down-covered wings while another that I thought was about the same age has suddenly sprouted feathers and, having a bit of scientific curiosity, my immediate question is "just how much older is the eaglet with the feathers?"

That isn't as easy to discover as you might think. At the very least, it requires checking the web sites for the two eaglets in the hope that they have an announcement of the hatch dates posted. If not, one needs to wander through the website blogs and the various forums where that nest is discussed until one finds the date in question.

So the first thing I put on my website was a list of significant dates for the dozen or so nests I found most interesting when the eggs were laid, when the eaglets hatched, and (for one nest so far) when they fledged. You can see that basic table - click here.

Getting back to the eaglet with the newly sprouted feathers, the next question I would have is how it compares to other eaglets the same age do feathers appear at the same time in the same way on all of them? While this sort of topic has been studied and there are plenty of places to find the answer in general terms, at least as it applied to a certain group of eaglets at a certain point in time I'm not interested in generalizations. I want to know how the eaglets I look at each morning before I head off to work are doing.

This, like many things that seem simple, has become quite a project. While I was wandering through the various forums looking for pictures of all the eaglets when they were one week old, I realized I also wanted to be able to see all the week-by-week pictures for each eaglet, so I could watch the Sidney eaglet change from week to week as well as compare him to other eaglets when they were that age.

The outgrowth of that project is very much a work in progress click here. With a bit of luck, there will be a lot more pictures in the next few weeks, but for now you can get a sense of things to come by looking at the links for Barton's Cove MA and Blackwater MD (I decided to approach this alphabetically). There are hatching pictures for all of the nests, but only a few pictures for each of Weeks One through Twelve (mostly from nests beginning with B). There are also "Week in Review" pages, with what I considered the most interesting current picture from each nest.

As you can see, most of the screenshots I'm using were taken by other people, and every time I go to the forums to look for a particular view of a particular nest, I am amazed at the quality and quantity of pictures available. That abundance does have a downside I know there are some really great pictures that I won't notice pictures that may capture the essence of some aspect of eaglet growth and development.

I would therefore encourage anyone who has a favorite picture of one of these nests especially one that really shows what was going on with that eaglet or eaglets on that day to PM me with a link to the photo. I can't promise I'll use all of them but I'll probably use a lot.

I hope this resource will help others, and I encourage people to send me comments and suggestions keeping in mind that I do have a "real" job, so this site will be updated and expanded as time allows.

I'd like to close with the dedication from my web site: This web site is dedicated to the Hornby eagles - where it all began for me - and to Doug Carrick, the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, the BioDiversity Research Institute, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Judy of the Maine Bald Eagle Cam Discussion Forum, the Dennis Puleston Osprey Fund and all the people who watch the nests and record the events and take the pictures. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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