Thanks in large part to the Vermont Bald Eagle Restoration Initiative, seeing eagles in Vermont is not all that unusual these days, even in winter. The open water of Lake Champlain (as well as ice fishermen and White-tailed Deer carcasses in other parts of the state) allow them to survive here during our coldest months. Vermont’s mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey documented 84 eagles in January, 2018.
Equally as encouraging is the growing breeding population of eagles in this state. This past year 21 adult Bald Eagle pairs successfully produced 35 young in Vermont. The return of eagles to their nest site is always a much- anticipated event, which often coincides with the opening up of the Connecticut River for at least one pair that nests on its banks (see photo).
Eggs have been laid and eagles (both male and female) are engaged in incubating them for the next month. One can’t help but be impressed by their perseverance — recently they endured three Nor’easters in 10 days while incubating their eggs (note snow on rim of nest)!
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In the Northeast, Bald Eagle eggs are hatching and the heads of the one-to-three chicks can be seen bobbing up and down, anxiously begging for a tidbit of food from one of their parents. For the first two or three weeks, their mother stays with them 90 percent of the time, keeping them warm and tearing food brought by their father into little pieces that she feeds to her chicks. Eventually food-gathering is shared equally between the parents, and is usually sufficient to produce a weight gain of 3 ½ ounces a day for male chicks, and 4 ½ ounces per day for the female chicks. (Female raptors are typically larger than the males.) The chicks in these photos are approximately two weeks old and are covered with their darker, second coat of down, which comes in when they are a little over a week old.
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.