Lifestyles

Eagle youngsters rule the treetops

Juvenile bald eagles take four years to reach maturity. - Photo by Brian Kyle
Juvenile bald eagles take four years to reach maturity.
— image credit: Photo by Brian Kyle

Juvenile eagles rule the roost at this time of year, with frantic activity in some tree-top nests.

Eagle parents, mated for life, are now feeding and caring for this year’s young, who will soon make their first flight.

The young eaglets’ grey, fluffy feathers will turn brown at 12 weeks of age, but it will take four years to reach full maturity, when head and tail feathers turn white. Nearly 50 per cent of young eaglets will not survive their first year.

Moms tip the scales in the raptor world, where females out-size their male partners: bald eagle females weigh 4.5 to 6.8 kg, while smaller males weigh 2.7 to 4 kg.

The majority of Canada’s bald eagles live along B.C.’s Pacific coast, affording fine opportunities for viewing them in treetops, carrying food to their nestlings, or standing guard near their avian real estate.

Canada’s largest bird of prey is one we can truly call our own: the bald eagle is the only eagle exclusive to North America. With an average lifespan of 25 to 40 years, each couple re-use their humongous nest over and over again.

Anyone with a computer can cyber-birdwatch from webcams peering into nests all over the world. B.C.’s bald eagles, Seal Island’s puffins, Poland’s storks and Montana ospreys all have their own live video feeds, allowing for massive viewing audiences.

On Canada’s west coast, at Hornby Island, a bald eagle pair are now tending one little hatchling, who has been named Scootch. http://www.hornbyeagles.com/HEGPSchat.htm. Vancouver and White Rock nests are viewable online at: cbc.ca/bc/features/eaglecam.

 

Trail guides: Nature Campbell River and Nature Strathcona available at Campbell River Museum giftshop. E-mail Christine at: wildernesswest@shaw.ca.

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