A pair of bald eagles joined the Alcoa Davenport community in Iowa in 2009. They built their 7-foot nest on our 400-acre facility in a tree near the Mississippi River. In the spring of 2010 they fledged a pair of eaglets and later that year we installed our first Eaglecam. Employees and the community helped name the eagle pair Liberty and Justice. Since the spring of 2010, Liberty and Justice have fledged nine eaglets from this nest.
Since the camera was installed nearly 27 million visitors from around the world have tuned in to witness an American icon, the bald eagle, developing live within this unique eco-system. In the fall and winter the eagles use the nest to eat and prepare the nest for the next season. Eagles nesting in Iowa typically lay eggs in mid-late February and the eggs hatch in mid-late March. The eaglets grow quickly and are ready to fly “fledge” in late May or early June. Alcoa is proud that our unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability is helping conserve our precious natural resources.
Friday, June 24, 2016A little Up, Up and Away
Over the noon hour today I visited the nest site. I was please to find one of the eaglets (most likely Sky) in the parking lot near the base of the tree just west of the nest tree. I sat there for a few minutes and eventually he spread his wings and took a short flight toward the treeline east of the nest. The total distance traveled was probably about 200-250 feet. He did not get more than 3-5 feet off the ground on this flight. He did appear to land on some low branches in one of the trees. I think this is an excellent indication both of our eaglets are very close to flying and getting back up to the tree tops where they belong. Have a good weekend everyone!
Posted at 2:48:01 PM | Permalink
| Trackback11 Weeks Old Today
Today will be the last data put together by Dr. Miller for a couple of weeks. She has mastered the way to get a nice legend so you can easily see both Star & Sky. I will do my best, but it will likely not be as easy to read. Today's image shows the two spent more time apart yesterday, but they are still moving around without any significant amount of flight. Today is Star's 11 week mark. I would expect both of them to be capable of flying very soon.
Posted at 9:58:00 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackThursday, June 23, 2016Active Day Yesterday
As you will see on the updated map from Dr. Miller both Star and Sky were very active yesterday. Her analysis of the data indicates neither one is flying yet (or at least not more than very short distances), but since Star turns 11 weeks old tomorrow she has to be very close to flight. You will see on the map what many of you heard yesterday afternoon was likely the parents feeding both kids. I did go down to the nest this morning and I did not see either Star or Sky. I think that is good news. They are either doing a good job of finding cover or they are getting up into some of the lower limbs of the many trees around the property. Their current feather coloring makes it very hard to spot them unless they move around or call-out.
Posted at 11:06:34 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackWednesday, June 22, 2016Traveling Around The Property
It is good to hear what sounds like both Star and Sky on the cams this afternoon. Hopefully they are close to flying so we can see them again soon on the live cameras. I did not get an updated map today from Dr. Miller. I was able to do something similar with the data. I could not figure out how to get the different colors for each eaglet. When you look at the image you can tell that Star is the one wondering around to the right and Sky is the one to the left. Remember this is data from 6am yesterday until 6am today. It will be interesting to see the data tomorrow to confirm what many think they hear (both eaglets close to the nest).
Posted at 6:17:53 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackTuesday, June 21, 2016Still Moving Around
I went down to the nest site late yesterday afternoon. I did see both parents again but I did not spot our young pair. You can see from the attached image (6am yesterday to 6am today) they continue to move around. The data suggests they are not flying yet but hopefully are finding a way to get up into some of the trees they are visiting. With a little luck we are just a few days away from them actually flying. Once that happens we should see more activity as they get into higher parts of the trees and have less foliage blocking the GPS signals.
Posted at 11:13:52 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackMonday, June 20, 2016Star & Sky Are Roaming
I went to the nest site mid-day Sunday. I was able to see Sky in the tree, but did not see Star. Based on data from Dr. Miller over the weekend it appears Star left the tree about 6:30pm Friday. Sky was there when I visited late Sunday morning but the data shows he left the tree sometime Sunday afternoon. You can see in the attached image generally where they have been from 6am Sunday until 6am today. Hopefully they are getting some lift and getting into lower levels of the trees where they are located. We will just have to watch the next few days and see when they can get back to the nest tree.
Posted at 10:59:10 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackFriday, June 17, 2016A Shady Spot to Perch
Posted at 2:52:39 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackStaying Put For Now
It was great to see Liberty and Justice stop in the nest for a while this morning. It will be interesting to see if/when they attempt any repairs to the damaged nest. Clearly their focus for right now is on Star and Sky and getting them to a point where they can fly.
Speaking of Star and Sky, it appears they have stayed in the tree where they were placed yesterday. I will go down there later today to check on them. Below is the last 24 hours telemetry. Keep in mind there are a few erroneous data points as they move to more densely leafed areas of this tree.
Posted at 9:09:40 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackThursday, June 16, 2016Eaglets Still in Temporary Tree
I just came back from checking on Star & Sky. They are still in the tree they were placed in this morning by USF&W. Each one has moved up a little higher and to some slightly smaller branches and both looked good. I did see both Liberty and Justice in the area so I think they are still in good hands for now until they can fly on their own.
Posted at 6:14:45 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackOff The Ground For Now
This morning a team from the local office of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service helped put our pair on a branch of a multi branch tree just west of the parking lot at the nest site. Both Star and Sky seem to be very healthy. Star had lost a talon but there is no sign of infection and a new talon is expected to grow back. Both Liberty and Justice are keeping a close eye on the eaglets and I am sure have spent time with them on the ground. Both were circling around this morning while we were there.
Despite some data points from the telemetry that make it appear the two have been flying, it is clear neither one is quite ready to get more than a few feet off the ground for short periods of time. Since they are 9.5 weeks old it will not be long before they are able to fly. The hope is they will stay in this tree for a week or more. There are plenty of branches at different levels for them to use. If they come back down to ground level we will continue to monitor them but not attempt to put them back in a tree. Hopefully in a few days they will be able to do that for themselves.
One additional word about the telemetry. When the eaglets were on the ground the heavy tree cover above can cause some errors in the data. Later when they spend most of their time at the tops of trees the data should be more accurate.
We still do not have power restored to the cameras. I am hoping that will happen today even though there will not be much to see until they are able to fly back to the nest.
Here are a few pictures from this morning.
Posted at 11:34:31 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackWednesday, June 15, 2016Star & Sky Are Out Of The Nest
This afternoon I went to check the nest site to see if power had been restored. To my surprise I found both Star and Sky apparently OK but on the ground below the nest tree. At that point I made a call to Dr. Miller at West Virginia University. She checked the telemetry data and is able to confirm that Sky left the nest Yesterday (Tuesday) at 3:31pm and that Star left the nest Yesterday (Tuesday) at 4:56pm. That first time coincides with a line of storms that knocked out power to the cameras. I would suspect that one or both of the eaglets got caught by a gust and forced out of the nest.
Below you will see a partial map of some of the telemetry data showing movements through part of the day today. The data suggests that both are flying for some short distances but since they were not expected to fledge for another week or two they are not yet capable of getting all the way back to the nest.
Tomorrow morning the team from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will come out and check the situation to see if there is any additional action needed. Liberty and Justice will likely be feeding then on the ground or on low branches of the trees until they are able to fly back to the nest. It is not uncommon for eaglets to spend a fair amount of time at ground level. We have seen this before at the Alcoa nest, just not before fledging.
I will give you another update tomorrow after the folks from USF&W have been here.
Posted at 6:51:02 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackPower Out
Yesterday's storms apparently knocked out the power feed to the nest area. We are waiting for Mid-American Energy to restore power. Hopefully when the power comes back we will also get the camera feed.
Posted at 1:45:21 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackOffline Tonight
Both cameras went offline this afternoon during the storms. Hopefully we can get them back online in the morning. I did check the nest and it is fine.
Posted at 12:03:20 AM | Permalink
| TrackbackWednesday, June 8, 2016Answering Another Question
Here is another answer from Dr. Tricia Miller from West Virginia University to a question posted here.
How many nests have you been able to do multiple eaglets at the same time vs. only one eaglet?
Most bald eagle nests that we have visited have twins or triplets; rarely are there singlets. Out of 23 nests where we have put telemetry on nestling eagles, we have put units on more than one eaglet at 13 of them. Whether or not we put telemetry a chick depends on the age and condition of the chick, the study, and the location of the nest. For example, if we have a high risk nest near an airport or wind facility then we would telemeter all of the chicks. However, we have a limited number of telemetry units and we can increase our nest sample by visiting more nests and deploying only one per nest. Often though, there is a very limited period of time when eaglets are old enough to telemeter. So if we have many units to put out for a study then we may deploy more than one unit on per nest. Otherwise we would chose to visit as many as possible, deploying only one per nest. Regardless of the study, time frame, or location of the nest, we never put a unit on a chick that is too young or in poor condition.
Posted at 5:06:45 PM | Permalink
| TrackbackFriday, June 3, 2016What Do They Measure?
Here are a couple more answers from Dr. Tricia Miller about the research work done earlier this week with the eagles. I have included a few photos as well.
Can you describe some of the measurements you took and what they tell you? Talons? Beak/nares? - We take 8 measurements on chicks. These are: weight, tarsus width side to side and front to back, hallux length, exposed culmen (beak from the cere to the tip), bill length (includes the cere), bill depth, and bill width. The combination of bill depth and tarsus width are useful in determining sex.
Star was bigger than Sky in all measurements. She weighed 4630 g (10.2 pounds). Sky weighed 3560 g (7.8 pounds).
Besides determining sex and lead poisoning…what else do you get from the blood samples? We use the blood for sex determination and test it for exposure to heavy metals. The test we use looks at lead, mercury, and selenium levels. We also check for the abundance of specific lead isotopes from which we can calculate lead isotope ratios.
Posted at 4:19:46 PM | Permalink