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Bald eagles raising fluff-ball chicks under web cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A pair of bald eagles are back raising a brood for the world to see.

Three eggs have been hatched, and the real work has begun.

beautifully positioned web cam over a bald eagle nest at the Decorah Fish Hatchery in Iowa is catching the attention of millions of viewers. The web cam gained fame last year as people logged on to watch the chicks hatch, grow and fledge.

The site linked above has video clips of the eggs being layed by the female eagle as well as the hatching events. 

Also this year, the Raptor Reseach Project is tracking one of last year's eaglets fitted with a GPS device and offering online map updates.

Read on for more details and links.

Eagle cams: Eaglets branch out from nest, eager to fledge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The three rapidly maturing bald eagle youngsters in a 4-foot-wide tree-top nest are testing their wings, clearly eager for the upcoming first flight, as the world can see under the excellent Decorah Fish Hatchery web-cam in Iowa.

As of this morning, people have logged on to view the spectacle more than 154 million times since the adult bald eagles nested in March and the eaglets hatched in early April!

Camera operators are able to pan the lens to show eaglets off the nest and using their wings to “branch out” from the nests.  It's literally any minute or any day now before they take their first flights.

Leaving the webcam running on the computer while doing other tasks has been educational during the growth period.  For instance, my wife and I witnessed how the nest stays relatively clean despite the three diaperless chicks.

Starting from soon after they hatched, the eaglets have the muscle tone to eliminate their waste in a powerful stream they instinctly direct up and out of the nest.  Amazing to watch from the webcam.  But look out below!

Meantime, closer to home, at least two eaglets hatched around Earth Day at a Lake Washington bald eagle nest (near Seattle).  They are a little more than two weeks  younger than the Iowa eaglets.The camera placement doesn't offer  the intimate view of the Decorah eagle cam, but it's an interesting perspective.

Eagle cam: Eaglets are beefing up


Webcam chat at Ustream

WILDLIFE — Less than two weeks old, three eaglets are starting to get big enough in their nest that the parents have a hard time settling down for a restful night.

Stay tuned along with about 4 million viewers EACH DAY watching as a bald eagle family flourishes in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Some drama darkened the nest last night. 

Viewers watching the web cam at midnight reported that an owl came close enough to rile the eagle parents, who did a good job of letting the owl know the nest was off limits.

One eagle cam fan captured about 5 minutes of the action and posted it on YouTube. The eagles are quite vocal, although there's a buzz in the audio.

The YouTube poster says you can fast-forward to about the 4:27 and 4:52 marks to hear the owl calling back

If you want a review, here are some highlight clips of the major developments:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling
  

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

Click here for a  tutorial on telling the difference between the male and female bald eagle adults, which share the duties of raising the young.

Eagle cam: Mothers may have tough time watching Mother Nature at work

WILDLIFE — Excitement has turned to concern as we watch the drama in the eagle nest. On Sunday, it ws clear the web cam operator was zooming in frequently to let viewers see what might be unfolding.

It was exciting to see the third eaglet hatch Wednesday afternoon, but now it's unclear whether the latecomer — born nearly five days after the first eagle — will survive.

Stay tuned along with millions of viewers — more than 30 million views as of this weekend — watching as a bald eagle family emerges in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

From the smorgsbord of food items… fish, bunnies, ducks … the adult eagles tend to feed the most food to the most aggressive chicks — a bit of survival of the fittest at work.  

The oldest eaglet often crawls over the top of the weaker eaglet to get its fill, and has been observed picking on the little one. On Sunday the youngest chick was hanging in there. I watched a feeding at 11:15 a.m. and it looked like the littlest chick was getting its fill! 

The family will do fine with just two eaglets, but the chat indicates that viewers are hopeful and anxious.

If you want a review, here are some highlight clips of the major developments:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling
  

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

Click here for a  tutorial on telling the difference between the male and female bald eagle adults, which share the duties of raising the young.
  

Third eagle hatches in nest live on web cam at 4:46 p.m.

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The third eaglet has just hatched.  It's unclear whether the latecomer — born nearly five days after the first eagle — will survive.

Stay tuned along with millions of viewers watching as a bald eagle family emerges in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

I was viewing this site with my colleagues minutes ago as the adult felt a little tickle, stood up, and we watched as the third and last eaglet began wiggling out of its egg at 4:46 p.m.  Its two siblings were watching.

I believe I got to see the first wobbling little white fluff ball get its first meal on April 2 after the other adult delivered a rabbit.  The parent went right for the nutritious entrails.  Since  then, a second eaglet has hatched and the adults have delivered several birds, apparently ducks, to the nest dinner table.

I've seen the adults share the duties of hunting and sitting on the nest.  One delivered a duck a few days ago.  A few hours later I check in and saw that the sitting eagle had cleanly plucked the breast, standing up to feed the hungry eaglettes every 40 minutes or so.

One of the adults has just landed and added a fish to the nest smorgasbord at 4:55 p.m. There's at least three fish, two birds and a bunny in the heap. Yum.

This show will only get better as the eagle family grows.

The website has cool features, including short clips of major events in the nest.  For instance:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

The overall website to check out is  www.raptorresource.org .

Tune in, leave the computer on as you do your business around the house, and enjoy. The adult eagles will be raising their young under the camera for weeks.