Bald Eagle Nest – The Fledging

Greetings on a gorgeous wintery day.  I hope everyone is safe.  I was driving yesterday evening when the snow was really coming down, and was reminded that the first day of winter precipitation in the StL metro area is very much like one of those figure eight races.

I want to give a very late thank you to all of the folks who visited the Art at the Shaw Nature Reserve 9th Annual Show & Sale last weekend.  I enjoyed and appreciated seeing all my old friends and meeting new ones.  I apologize for being tardy with this message.

I also want to apologize for being so tardy in posting these images from my last visit to the Bald Eagle nest.

Bill Duncan – 11/16/2014

The Nearly Empty Nest...
The Nearly Empty Nest…

Arriving near first light on a very foggy morning, I could not find any presence in the nest.  I feared that the chicks had fledged and the family had moved on.  After waiting about 30 minutes, I decided to walk under the nest tree to see if I might find evidence of what they ate, or some other artifacts that may have landed during their nearly three month stay.  Not finding much on the ground, I peered up the trunk of the giant sycamore to see what the nest looked like from my vantage.  As I did, I saw both chicks 10-15 feet above the nest looking down at me!  They were hidden from my view earlier due to the low light, fog and foliage.  Not wanting to disturb them, I slowly hiked back up the hill to my usual observation spot.


I watched for a few hours as they climbed up and down the stout branches that rose over their nest, exercising their wings as they went.  I was sure they were close to taking that first plunge.  Little did I know what was in store.  I watched as the older and bolder of the two took what was likely its first flight attempt.  It fell like a rock.  After the initial “flight”, I listened for sounds of life behind the dense foliage below the nest.  I heard not a single sound for nearly half an hour.  I had to see if the bird might have broken its neck or perhaps landed in the river below.  I slowly walked down the slope, under the nest tree and onto the flat of the river’s bank.  I looked up and finally, to my relief saw this one looking back at me from about 50 feet above me and ten feet or so from the nest.  Not much of a first flight, but this one was out of the nest.


With its older sibling out of the way, the remaining chick put even more efforts into practicing…


The chick spent a lot of time in limbs well above the nest.  When one of the parents brought a meal, it must have been confused that nobody was there to take it…


The chicks have been out of the nest for about five months now.  I hope they are doing well and learning a lot during their first winter.  Maybe we’ll run into each other one day.




One thought on “Bald Eagle Nest – The Fledging

  1. What a privilege to have followed this family through their entire nesting cycle. Even as Bald Eagle populations continue to climb, such unencumbered views of this most secretive process remain rare and mostly off-limits. A truly remarkable success for you, the conservationists of our time, and of course these glorious birds themselves.

    In many ways, I think “The Nearly Empty Nest” may be the most dramatic and inspiring shot of the entire series. Lump in my throat every time I view.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us, Bill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s