Questions abound this time of year about bald eagles that are just leaving their nest tree (fledging) for the first time. At what age do they fledge? Do the adults continue to take care of them? For how long? How long do the fledglings remain in the nest territory (natal area)? Where do they go on their first flight away from home?
Close nest monitoring and satellite and cell technology are helping to answer these questions (and many more). Three bald eagles from local nests in Norfolk (Norfolk Botanical Garden) and Virginia Beach (Saw Pen Point) are helping provide the data that answers these questions. Observations and satellite data from Azalea and Camellia and cell data from KE provides the following:
Azalea hatched March 22, 2009, fledged June 13, 2009 (84 days), left natal area August 17, 2009 (66 days) and flew to Tulls Bay in Currituck County, NC.
Camellia hatched March 11, 2010, fledged May 27, 2010 (78 days), left natal area July 13, 2010 (48 days) and flew to Williamsburg, VA.
KE hatched March 31, 2012, fledged June 14, 2012 (76 days), left natal area July 29, 2012 (46 days) and flew to Piankatank River in Middlesex County, VA.
Yesterday, June 15, 2013 I accompanied Shelly Fowler to the location where she has been assisting Courtney Turrin, a William & Mary (Center for Conservation Biology) graduate student, gather data about the bald eagles at the nest on Saw Pen Point in Virginia Beach (same nest KE is from). Three young eagles have been raised in this nest, one of which fledged June 10 and another June 12. Not sure if the third had fledged. As we arrived the adult female left the nest and went into a very high soar directly over head and out of sight. Shelly and I could see that there were two juveniles in the nest. Then the adult male flew in with a fish (photo) and like magic the third juvenile appeared in the nest (photo). The male left and the third juvenile moved to a lower branch (photo). Another question answered. Yes, the adults do continue to care for their young after they fledge. (Photos copyright Michele Fowler). Click on photos to enlarge.