Berry College Eagles - 2 eggs in 2019

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by LizKat, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. LizKat macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #1
    Yep it's that time again. The mom and pop eagle have 2 eggs they have been tending in the nest they returned to and refurbished yet again in a big ol' pine tree on the grounds of Berry College in Georgia.

    One egg was laid on January 8 and the other on January 11. Time to hatch is about a month, so any time now we should have some action. There are two live cams in the 100-foot-tall pine tree. Enjoy!

    Didn't make time to follow them last year but in 2017 they did well and successfully raised two eaglets who fledged out in May.

     
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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  3. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #3
    I followed one last year (the year before?) for Mr and Mrs President. Watched regularly until the eaglets left the nest.
     
  4. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #4
    Rainy weather there today, the mama looks pretty bedraggled but determined to keep those eggs warn.
     
  5. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #5
    Well yesterday afternoon while it was sunny in Georgia, the mama suddenly startled and stepped back in the nest to look at the eggs; she was flapping her wings a bit and then holding them over the eggs while she peered at them. She has seemed somewhat more restless since then. Perhaps the chick in the egg that was laid on Jan 8th has grown its egg tooth --a process that occurs about a week before hatch and takes four days-- and had started scratching at the shell in a circular pattern to break the shell open and get out. That process takes 2 or 3 more days and the chick's movement and even chirping can be heard inside the eggshell by the parent minding the eggs.

    Since the Berry College cams are infrared, the nest can still be viewed at night. Usually whichever parent is not on the nest at night is nearby to help deter any predators if needed.

    The parent eagles don't interfere with the hatching process, they just keep the eggs warm and protected from predators, and take turns bringing food to the nest while the other one incubates the eggs. So the chick has to do all the work to break the shell completely and get out. Anyway both eggs should hatch very soon now if they are viable, as the time to hatch for bald eagle chicks usually runs from 33 to 38 days. If the eggs are not viable, the eagles will still spend some more time incubating them, but gradually start spending more time away from the nest when the eggs fail to hatch. So far this season the Berry College eagles are still minding their two eggs full time... but those eggs are pretty nearly to the end of normal range to hatch out.
     
  6. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #6
    I had no idea that the parent eagles do not interfere in the hatching process, and that the chicks (eaglets?) must break their way out of their eggs themselves. Fascinating.

    How can the parents tell whether the eggs are viable or not?
     
  7. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #7
    They can't, and casual observers of course can't tell whether nonviability was from failure of fertilization or a developmental / environmental failure. Parents will notice a broken egg though, and distinguish it from one where the incipient hatchling is making its way out. Sometimes they'll crush a broken egg and feed contents to an already hatched chick.

    But if eggs remain intact in the nest, then the parents continue to incubate them even after 40 days, particularly if they're experienced parents. The appearance of a chick in the nest and its demands are what trigger the next step in the care of the eaglets.

    As time goes on and if that next step is not triggered, the adults gradually lose interest, fail to bring fresh grasses to the nest, spend more time hunting and feeding themselves. They will sometimes create a second clutch of eggs but usually that's only if the first eggs are damaged or abandoned within a few weeks of having been laid. The female is fertile only in about a 2-3 week period. Lengthening daylight triggers production of a hormone necessary to fertility, but that gets switched off as incubation proceeds.
     
  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #8
    That is absolutely fascinating.
     
  9. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #9
    Here we have the changing of the guard on a Sunday afternoon in Georgia... viable or not, those eggs are getting mindful care around the clock so far. The parents are taking turns at the incubation and turning of the eggs. Each will hunt and then bring food to the nest so the other can eat or take a break, and otherwise hangs out in the vicinity of the nest to ward off any challengers or would-be predators.


    Changing of the Guard - Berry College Eagles 2019.jpg
     
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #10
    Absolutely wonderful; this is awesome stuff.
     
  11. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #11
    The college posted an update today, noting that one of the eggs has a noticeable external pip now, meaning a chick has been working at the task of hatching out. We don't know yet if this is the first or second egg laid, and in either case the incipient hatch is at far end of expected timeframes, but now there's some hope for at least one chick this season from these eagles.

    Here's the update info and a photo:

    one of the eggs appears pipped.jpg


     
  12. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #12
    Some cool video from earlier today of the pipping process of one of the eggs. The parents do know they have a hatch in progress now, so they're pretty excited, while taking care to keep turning both eggs and incubating them but switching places a few times more often than usual and taking even more care how they place their feet and beaks as they take their turns checking hatch progress. No rest for the weary tonight.


    The parents won't interfere with the hatch but they do need to know when there's finally a chick in the nest instead of two eggs so once pipping begins there's less rest for both parents. This is a familiar phase in rearing of their babies, so they may also remember that there's a long night ahead without the usual snooze time. Can be hard to catch a fish in a lake or river at midnight... time to stock up, so they may make extra forays before dark.

    A hatching chick makes noise with its beak scratching against the shell to abrade a larger opening after the initial external pip, and it will also chirp while it tries to break out of the shell. The shell has thinned somewhat during incubation due to intake of its calcium content by the chick during its developmental process.

    Hatching activity itself is driven by lack of oxygen and rise of carbon dioxide in the shell after the tiny external breakthrough or pip; that change in ambient air inside the still largely intact shell causes hatching contractions as the chick strives for more air, rotating as it probes the shell with its beak and pushing with its legs, resting between efforts.

    The parents must look after their own needs before the hatch, after that there's a little time (several to 12 hours) before the chick will beg for food.

    And after that.... it's a zoo of meeting perpetual demands for food, housekeeping and babysitting until a nestling's wings grow strong enough to start exercising them and venturing into branches above or adjacent to the nest structure.

    Even after fledging, an eaglet must learn to fly well, where to fly to in order to catch their own food, and it needs to be shown how to hunt successfully. In the meantime the parents continue to provide some food while encouraging independence of the fledgling(s), which of course would rather be fed than have to make their own way to nail down some elusive chow that's still on foot or swimming or on the wing itself.
     
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    Absolutely fascinating; until I read these posts, I had had no idea that these eagle chicks had to make their own - probably quite demanding - way out of the egg. Thanks for sharing.
     
  15. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #15
    Well the proud parents have helped usher in eaglet B12, who checked out of shell a little before 11pm last night (Feb 18, 2019) and was kept warm and dry during a rain-showery night, with a nasty north wind swaying that big ol' pine tree. An update from the college popped up this morning with a fuzzy shot of the closely guarded hatchling. The other good news is that the new arrival is definitely the chick from the egg laid on Jan 8, and we know that because the other egg, of Jan 11, has now been pipped. They do always hatch in order they were laid. So one up and soon to be looking for food, and the other trying to get out to join the party. This is the Berry College bald eagle pair's 12th successful hatch.

    Berry eaglet B12 has arrived.jpg
     
  16. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #16
    Still a rain showery day happening... but here's a better snap of the B12 fluffball. Nifty how the parent has turned and piled up a grasses barrier against that nasty wind so the chick has a little room between the parent's body and the barrier but stays warm while the eagle manages the other egg now trying to finish hatching. The eagles have what's called an incubation patch in front where the feathers fall away during incubation, so the blood vessels near the breast skin there can warm the eggs or new hatchlings efficiently.

    yep there's B12 fluffball.jpg
     

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