Eagle's Afternoon Shift Change (Thursday, Jan 13th)
Today the male took over late afternoon nest duties from the female near 4pm. I believe the head (feathers) shape around the eyes and under the beak differ enough if you study several pictures to distinguish the adults from each other. Earlier I couldn’t see this sufficiently, but after reviewing more pictures I find the male’s head “thinner” in areas, and the female’s eyes deeper set with a fuller feather trim below the beak. The difference is subtle, and without having several “control” pictures to compare, I find this method of differentiation difficult. Since the birds can turn their head seemingly near 360 degrees, this method can be difficult if the bird isn’t in same / comparable position to the other. This be what it may, I believe the male arrived from the west and perched behind the female. The two birds seems to relate with each other and for about a minute before the female left. The pine needles covered their interaction activity but it appeared their beaks come close to each other. From what I’m learning about incubation and hatching, there seems no sign of little ones yet. There has been no feeding or preoccupation with anything in the nest. The adults do look down and lower their beaks when they stand up to stretch, but this only lasts for 30 seconds or so. Today I noted about 2 minutes before the male came, the female stood-up and seemed to be stretching and moved around the nest. Was it a coincidence she stood-up prior to the male arriving or did she hear him coming? Did she call for him? I can’t be sure whether she looked for him immediately before his arrival as it was difficult to see their heads and eyes. The female left to the southeast and could not be seen again after leaving the nest. These pictures are in sequence, female, female and male, then male. Note there was an instance the female was looking down in the nest and two emergency vehicles with sirens full pitch sped by, the bird looked up for a moment, noted the vehicles, and continued about activities. I included the picture of the eagle looking up (2nd picture).
Re: Eagle's Afternoon Shift Change (Thursday, Jan 13th)
Wow, those are beautiful photos, Jim!
I and perhaps others may have noticed that the bird on the nest, and older eaglets as well, seem to be aware of the impending arrival of another adult. It probably is not ESP. Their eyesight is very acute, and the nest is above most of the canopy, permitting them to see another eagle at quite a distance. Their hearing must be very good as well. They may be able to hear an incoming bird.
We have seen the incubating or brooding adult call to the other adult as if impatient for a food drop or an exchange of duties, and the other respond by flying in or maybe setting out to hunt.
Ken, yes I noted last year the young can become very excited, vocal, and began looking toward the direction of the returning parent (bringing food). While nesting, I wondered if the adults ever initiate calls wanting relief from their nest duties, or if their vocals were more about acknowledging presence? I suspect behaviors of such have been documented, so will do a little digging. I noted earlier in an observation this year, the male while on the nest, began looking and calling to the female perched above him and the female would look down during the call. Within a couple minutes, she had relieved him. Jim