Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

August 25, 2013

Ed Hungness: Leaving the nest is risky for some

During the last week of April, our resident pair of Bald Eagles was blessed with two baby eaglets.

Perched high atop a nearby towering white pine sits their nest. About six feet in diameter, it is occupied each spring and summer and has been for years. Unlike smaller birds, the nest is built to last and is constructed of sticks and branches in order to withstand high winds which could topple it from the lofty perch. Each year, in the early spring, they repair and add to their dwelling.

We believe that the same pair of adult eagles occupy the nest from year to year. Bald Eagles mate for life and it is not uncommon for one to live for 30 years in the wild. If one of the pair dies, the other will frequently find a new mate.

On May 5 I looked though a tri-pod mounted spotting scope which is permanently set up in our living area and focused on the nest. I detected movement and saw both adults perched on the outer edge. One was busy ripping apart either a fish or small rodent for the two gray fuzz balls who were eager to be fed.

I could see their weeks-old heads poking above the sides of the nest with mouths wide open, begging for their dinner.

As the days and weeks passed there was constant activity at the nest. For the most part, the mother is a stay-at-home mom and dad goes out to “bring home the bacon.”

Occasionally, like many females, she feels the urge to “get out of the house and go shopping.” At that point, there is a role reversal and dad stays home with the kids while she flies away to seek food for the young ones. At all times, one of the adults is on the nest to protect the new family.

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