I stopped by the nest site at about 2:00 PM today and one adult was perched directly above the nest and the eaglet was standing in the nest, scratching itself and doing some wing flapping without really raising itself up off the nest.
The eaglet was active and moving about the nest from side to side with the parent constantly watching it.
Both the adult and the eaglet sounded just before the other adult landed on the nest.
The second parent landed on the West side of the nest and was greeted by the eaglet. It then proceeded to feed the eaglet for some time from food, looking like fish, that was already in the nest.
When there was no food being offered for a short period of time the eaglet let the parent know it wanted more by chomping on its beak.
Eventually the second eagle that was above the nest flew off to the South East.
I watched the adult feed the eaglet off and on for a little over a half hour and both were still on the nest when I left around 2:45 PM.
Excellent photos! I had trouble getting a clear shot because of the intervening pine needles. It is interesting that this eaglet is not yet climbing out on the branches. In past years the age at fledging ranged between 68 to 81 days. Assuming it was the first hatched, around January 1, 2013, this chick is just about 82 days old, so it should fly off any day now.
There were several times yesterday when I thought the eaglet was about to go out on a branch, and it kept looking up at the branch above the nest where one of the parents was, but about when I thought it might helicopter up to the branch it would just turn and move to the other side of the nest. I too had LOTs of shots with the trees in the way. Luck plays such a Hugh role in it. It just happened that the breeze was blowing enough at the time that I could snap off a couple of shots when the tree branches moved past the nest in one direction and then a couple more when it swayed out of the way in the opposite direction. I know you know exactly what I am talking about from viewing your great shots Ken, because when the wind isn't blowing at all a good bit of the nest is concealed.
Thanks so much for the photos. I wonder if single Eaglets tend to fledge later than those with siblings. The ones over in North Ft. Meyers have been hopping out to branches a lot lately! But I guess with no webcam here, we don't really know the exact hatch date so maybe it's younger.
Steffi, that is an interesting question, whether a single eaglet may fledge later than those with siblings.
Intuitively, I assumed that having others competing for space just to flap their wings might cause those with siblings to branch earlier, and thus depart at a younger age. Our limited experience (as shown on our summary of observations at this link) supports this supposition but is not conclusive. The earlier multiple broods flew sooner but the 2010 nest with three eaglets took the longest to both branch and take their first flights. I wonder whether any scientific study has been done to test this hypothesis.
Maybe the "little" eaglet (now bigger than her parents) just enjoys all the special attention and has less incentive to leave the nest. Some experts have alleged (but we have not witnessed) that the parents starve the eaglet in the days before fledging in order to reduce its body weight and make the first flight easier. As David's photos show, this one is still being fed small portions as if it were a a baby. In the past we have seen the eaglets "attack" the parent at food drops and compete with nest-mates for the prey.
Certainly the parents do drop food on the nest to attract the eaglet back after it fledges.