Saturday, February 2, 2013:
Alcoa in Davenport, Iowa barely got their new live video stream up and running in time to catch Liberty laying her first eagle egg of the season on Thursday, February 07, 2013. Shortly after the video stream went on line that afternoon, about 2:30 p.m. (CT), Liberty laid her first egg of the season. For those of you not already acquainted with Liberty, she is the female counterpart of a pair of eagles who, for the last three years, have raised a family of eaglets on a web cam before the eyes of an avidly watching world.
Liberty and Justice aren’t the only eagle celebrities in Iowa. A few miles away, as an eagle flies, in Decorah, IA, there is another eagle pair, that for the last couple of years has had an eagle cam trained on them as well. Depending on which nest this eagle pair chooses to lay their eggs in, the eagle viewing may be sparse in Decorah for 2013. Administrators say there will be no way to put a cam on the new nest if they choose to lay their eggs there, so video and photos will be of the “from the ground” variety sightings.
Not to worry though. Liberty and Justice have an egg in the Davenport nest, and those addicted can get their eagle fix on line there. I call it an eagle fix because 12 million viewers have tuned in since the Liberty-Justice reality show went on the air.
For those of you who are novices in egg watching, the average incubation for an eagle egg to hatch is approximately 35 days, give or take a couple, making March 14 a possible due date for the first baby eaglet to be born. If Liberty and Justice follow tradition, we should see at least two more eggs laid in the next three or four days.
Monday, February 11, 2013:
Last night at approximately 6:00 p.m. Liberty dropped a second egg into the nest at the Alcoa eagle site outside of Davenport, IA. Since she dropped her first on Wednesday, she’s pretty much right on schedule. In the face of the howling February winds of the last 24 hours, Liberty is fearless. One might wonder that Mother Nature’s breeding plan for the American Bald Eagle most often commences in the most miserable of times during a Midwest winter. However, the temporary chilling of the eggs in those short intervals when mom leaves the nest, in no way, slow the brooding process down much more than a few hours to a couple of days. New life is still forming inside that egg, as the conscientious mother is well aware. If Liberty holds true to form, there should be a third egg in the nest by Wednesday evening. Nest watchers will be avidly checking in.
Friday, February 15, 2013:
Wednesday has come and gone and so far, there is no third egg on the Alcoa eagle nest. While there is still the slight possibility there could be a third egg, that window of opportunity is close to passing. Cam watchers have had numerous opportunities, however, to get a good look at the two eggs Liberty is nesting on. In the frigid temperatures, the buffeting winds of a February winter in Iowa, Liberty has lined the burrowed hole she has created with softer grass in her intricate nest of sturdy sticks. She patiently pulls this fine layer of grass up so when she snuggles down over the eggs it will provide a shield of sorts up around her breast. This veteran mother makes it look easy to build and inhabit this 14 feet deep incubator for baby eaglet eggs to thrive in, but anybody who has survived a Midwest winter will admire her zealous tenacity and skill.
Monday, February 25, 2013:
Last Thursday in Iowa was a day to see what eagles are made of, and Liberty did not disappoint. Watching the wind and snow of a February blizzard buffet and blast her seemingly tenuous hold on her two eggs, we who stood by and watched could only admire her tenacity, determination and strength. Liberty, in her simple way was demonstrating for those with eyes to see, why the American Bald Eagle was the perfect symbol of this great nation. Facing the brunt of the storm, she appeared every vigilant and perfectly capable of dealing with Mother Nature’s blatant and dramatic demands.
Saturday, March 16, 2013:
There is a hole in one of Liberty’s eggs. Baby eaglets have a tiny beak that Mother Nature has expressly designed to enable them to break out of that thick eggshell. That tiny hatching beak disappears shortly after birth. It shouldn’t be long now.
Saturday Afternoon, March 16, 2013:
It’s official. Liberty and Justice are the proud parents of one newly hatched eaglet chick, who is proudly demanding to be fed, and seems ready to become a media attraction. When the chicks are first hatched, they are wet and awkward, and this one is no exception. It doesn’t take them long, though, to dry those damp feathers and turn into an adorable ball of gray fluff. The newly hatched eaglet isn’t camera shy. Because the eggs were laid three days apart, we should be able to see signs of the other egg with a crack shortly.
Sunday March 17, 2013:
A lovely St. Patrick’s Day Surprise! The second baby eaglet chick has cracked the egg. It looks very promising that another baby eaglet should appear as soon as Monday. Meanwhile, Liberty and Justice have plenty to do to hunt for and feed the new chick that has been newly hatched Saturday.
Monday, March 18, 2013:
Liberty and Justic have two eaglet chicks in the nest, two hungry new mouths to feed, and cute little babies they are. So far the new parents have provided plenty of opportunities to get a good glimpse of the new hatchlings. The adults feed the new chicks about every half hour, give or take a few minutes. One good rabbit or fish can last a few hours, but these hungry little carnivores and the parent sitting on the nest can devour one in short order. Congratulations to the new parents of two healthy, thriving little eagles.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013:
Temperatures have dropped into the teens over night in Iowa, and with the wind gusts, figuring in the wind chill factor, it feels even worse than the thermometer says it is. Liberty is hunched over her newly hatched babies, and there is no other word for it. She is huddled down over her new little eaglets, protecting them as best she can from the onslaught of the wind and cold. The new hatchlings cannot regulate their own body heat and totally dependent on their parents for protection from the cold. The eagles have a sort of breast plate designed to help do this. They pull a soft bedding of grass up around their chest, and then huddle that protective breastplate down over the little eaglets to keep the wind off of them. The nest is designed so rain and snow will drain down and through it or the newborn could drown in a lake of water. So it is porous,, but as the nest is built up, many of the skins from the carcasses of the numerous rabbits and squirrels, moles and other rodents becomes part of that massive structure too, so there are some built in wind breaks. However, Liberty and Justice have to be longing for a break in the weather. The new eaglet chicks are fine though.
Thursday, March 21, 2013:
At 7:55 A.M. I signed in just in time to see Liberty and Justice feed the two little media stars their breakfast of fresh fish, yummy yum! Both parents appeared proficient at taking tiny flecks of meat and aiming at those little targeted beaks anxiously waiting to be fed. Liberty and Justice ate as much as they fed the new hatchlings, and then Justice, giving Liberty a break from nest duty, settled down on the nest in a rocking motion that took several seconds, fluffing his feathers out in a ruffled look as he moved. They whole process took approximately five minutes and gave me a front row seat into the lives of this new family of four. Those fluffy little eaglets are a total delight.
Sunday, March 24, 2013:
It’s 9:45 P.M. on a wet snowy night in Iowa and Liberty has snow building up on her feathers, but she’s still vigilant on the nest. The eaglet chicks appear to be thriving, but one can’t help wondering if Liberty and Justice would like a break in the weather. Liberty’s feathers are ruffled out, providing a protective shield for her little ones, but it’s going to be a less than ideal night on the nest in the wet and snow.
I have not reported much on the Decorah, IA eagle nest this year, but there is one, and the female eagle there is sitting on eggs. The eagle pair started building a new nest in the fall of this previous year, and decided to use it. There was no eagle cam there. A volunteer has been by the nest to record the female eagle brooding there, but unfortunately, until we see little heads peeking over the edge of this new nest, we’re not going to know how many eggs, and how many little eaglets have hatched there. We’re assuming three eggs, but we don’t have a time frame for when they were laid or how long she’s been nesting on them. However, I will report what I can figure out about this Iowa eagle family as well.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013:
At 9:32 A.M. this morning, I tuned in to find Liberty feeding two rambunctious little eaglet chicks. The sun is finally shining in Iowa, and our two little media stars are definitely not camera shy. They are too cute for words and are greedily chomping down a breakfast of raw meat. So far they are pretty nice about taking turns, but that will soon change. Once again, Alcoa is having a naming contest for these two new little ones, so vote for your favorites while you still can.
Friday, March 28, 2013:
There is some evidence suggesting there may have been a new hatch in Decorah, IA on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Because this eagle couple chose to lay their eggs in a new nest, one without a camera, the Decorah crew is having to rely on past experience and wait for verification, which means, waiting until the little ones are old enough to be seen over the side of the nest.
For those of you who are tuning into the Davenport nest at Alcoa, you’ve seen how the eagles build up the side of the nest like a pack and play once there are newly hatched eaglet chicks on the nest. There is evidence this is happening at the Decorah nest. The male is also bringing food to the nest, a pretty good indication that the pair has at least one new mouth to feed. It may be the middle to the end of April before we have an eaglet sighting though.
Meanwhile, Liberty is being very liberal about her two little stars, giving them plenty of camera time. She’s especially generous on days when the sun is out and the nest is nice and warm. Iowa is expecting a change in the weather Sunday P.M. though. Rain showers mixed with snow are in the forecast. When the weather deteriorates, it’s when nest viewers really begin to appreciate the fortitude of these birds of prey. Their vigilance over their newly hatched eaglets in the onslaught of gusting winds, rain and snow truly inspires.
Thursday, April 4, 2013:
Two more days left to vote for a name for the two eaglet chicks at Alcoa in Davenport, IA. The two favorite pairs of names seem to be Glorty and Honor or Al and Coa, in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Company that was fortunate enough to be chosen by an eagle pair as their home. What a difference a week can make in the life of a little eagle. They seem to be hungry during most of their waking moments as they preen in the Spring sunshine. Saying they are growing at the speed of light is a slight exaggeration, but there are changes every day now. Mom and Dad are excellent providers and there is always a smorgasboard of carcasses on the nest, mostly fish, but there are small furry animals like squirrels, rabbits, moles, too. The Iowa weather has been spectacular for eagle viewing so those of us who love watching these babies metamorphising right before our very eyes have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the view.
Saturday, April 6, 2013:
At 6:00 a.m. this morning, Liberty was already up and feeding two fluffy eaglet chicks. They still teeter and totter in the nest, but with some work, the two can get their feet under them and stand up. Just so you know, 6:00 a.m. in Iowa is still before sunrise, but it’s light enough you can see pretty well.
At Decorah, IA, a vigilant volunteer named Jim was out with his trusty camera Friday, April 5, and managed to get some shots of three hatched eaglets on the nest there. Although it was suspected at least one had hatched, this is the first confirmed sighting of them. There are three baby eaglets on this nest now so this family of two has become a family of five.
You can see how the parent eagles have added a twig rail around the nest to form an eagle crib to keep the new eagle chicks from falling out of the nest. While these new hatchlings are more difficult to see because of the new nest, Jim has done an awesome job of catching them on film. Check out the hyperlink to view them.
Saturday, May 4, 2013:
What a difference a month makes. For eagles and people alike. On April 8, 2013, I put my husband in our van at 9:20 P.M. and headed for University of Iowa Hospital’s ER. He was in critical condition, then heavily sedated and on strong antibiotics, and then he had his right foot amputated. We’re still here, and as you can see it'[s been almost a month. But the worst of his crisis is past and he is recovering, getting stronger everyday. While all of this was happening on our personal front, problems developed at Alcoa in Davenport with the Eagle Cam too. It went down April 10, 2013. Then we had 8 inches of rain plus across the state and flooding from border to border. Davenport was no exception, and it made checking out the camera problems and doing something about them almost impossible.
On the lighter side, the elections results for names for the two Alcoa eaglets netted results. Glory and Honor had a resounding win. The eaglet chicks continue to thrive. The first camera has not been fixed and a second camera had to be set up at some distance. All involved agreed this was not an appropriate time to try to get anywhere close to a nest containing new hatches, and two vigilant predator parents. While the adults can still be spotted sitting on the nest and caring for their young, it’s not good viewing for those of us who have in the past enjoyed watching the development of the young birds.
Still it is reassuring to know all is going well despite the wild and wooly Iowa weather that has included wind, rain, hail and snow. More snow than any of us could have dreamed of in May. On May 2, Fort Dodge, Iowa received 8 inches of snow, and they received more over night the following night. However, Mother Nature has equipped our eagle parents with the survival skills to bear the brunt of this onslaught and perserve.