Has Eaglet left the nest? Not seen March 23 and 26
We visited the nest at about 8:30 AM on Friday, March 23 and observed for 3/4 hour. Phil was there and he said he saw the eaglet on the nest the evening before. We saw neither the eaglet nor any adult eagles. We did not hear any calls.
As we watched, two ospreys joined the numerous vultures soaring over the nest. A Short-tailed Hawk (light morph) circled high to the west
A Merlin perched atop a dead tree behind and west of the nest.
The Merlin took flight.
We returned this morning at about 9:20 AM and watched for nearly an hour. Again, we saw and heard no sign of the eaglet and there were no adults in sight.
Has the eaglet fledged? As mentioned earlier, its siblings from earlier years left the nest a week or more earlier, and they branched and helicoptered for a week or more before taking their first flight. Absence of adults around the nest is also of some concern. Eaglets normally return to the nest to be fed for several weeks after their first flight.
Please make an effort to stop by to look and listen for the eaglet. If adults bring prey to the empty nest in an attempt to lure the eaglet back you should here it call if it is anywhere nearby. Adults may also look in the direction of the eaglet if it has fledged. If uninjured, it is old enough to get back on the nest.
We have had anxious times in past years when it sometimes took over two days for an eaglet to return to the nest.
On March 23, the first day the nest appeared to be empty, the eaglet was 86 days old, assuming it was the first egg hatched, on January 15. Over the past three seasons, the oldest chick fledged when it was (respectively) 77. 81, and 68 days, an average of 75 (mean 74.5) days of age. The youngest chick fledged (respectively) 79, 91 and 70 days, an average of 80 (mean 80.5) days after the first egg hatched. If we hypothesize that this year's eaglet was not the first hatched, its age of 86 days, while above average, is not outside the range of dates observed for youngest nest-mates in past broods. (See the SUMMARY OF KEY OBSERVATIONS DURING EACH BALD EAGLE BREEDING SEASON (2007-Present))
It is now important to determine the welfare of the eaglet. It should be capable of flight and may have relocated some distance away. This could account for the absence of adults at the nest site. In past years, adults were present most of the time during the period when eaglets left the nest. There is the possibility that it was injured or killed, not uncommon during the first days of free flight.
Since we do not hear the eaglet calling or see adults peering down under the nest or in nearby trees, I believe it would be futile to initiate a search for a downed eaglet in the vicinity of the nest. I am asking volunteer eagle watchers to keep an eye out for the return of the eaglet, and to report observations about the behavior of any adult eagles that may be sighted.
If I had read this post earlier today, I would have stayed longer I was there from about 11:40 until 12:20, left for lunch and returned for another 40 minutes or so. The only large birds I saw were vultures. They did not seem interested in the area close to the nest.
I thought it was just my recent bad luck. I'm hoping that's the case or that the eaglet is ok and simply has relocated.