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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

July 8, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Kirkland eaglets sail through July 4th

The eaglets at Kirkland’s Heritage Park seem to have made it through the 4th of July fireworks festivities just fine, reports Mary Brisson of Eastside Audubon. The chapter helped get the annual fireworks celebration at the park relocated away from the vicinity of the nest so as not to disturb the birds, as reporter Keith Ervin wrote recently in the Seattle Times.

“It seems the whole community is now waiting for them to fly,” Brisson wrote me today in an email. “It’s wonderful to see how many people are coming to the park to see the eagles.”

Who wouldn’t? Here’s a great current photo of the family:

Bald eagle family at Heritage Park on July 4. Photo by Mick Thompson

Bald eagle family at Heritage Park on July 4. Photo by Mick Thompson

 

Mary has more on the eagles and how they are doing in a press release she wrote, which I am posting here:

“After a day of cannon fire from parading Seafair Pirates, citizen pyrotechnics, and a late night bagpipe serenade at the base of their home tree, two young Bald Eagles at Heritage Park in Kirkland were seen flapping their wings and hopping around their nest on the morning of July 5.

“They seemed fine this morning,” said Nancy Roberts, an Eastside Audubon member who worked with Celebrate Kirkland! to have the fireworks barge moved farther south of the park for the sake of the eaglets.

When unofficial fireworks went off north of the park before the planned Kirkland show, one of the adult eagles called out from a perch near the nest, Nancy reported. “It was almost like a little reassuring chirp,” she said. “The eaglets just lay down flat in the nest and we didn’t see them again.”

Earlier in the day, one of the eaglets was clearly startled by the first boom from the Pirates’ cannon nearby. The young bird was perched at the edge of the nest at the time and remained alert afterward. The other crouched low in the nest.

 Community Watching for First Flight

Hundreds of people celebrating Independence Day in Kirkland stopped by Heritage Park during the day and evening to look through Eastside Audubon members’ spotting scopes at the nestlings, which are yet to take their first flight.

Many were surprised at how large the “baby” eagles are. The birds reach adult size while still on the nest so their wings will give them the lift they need when they’re ready to fly. Bald Eagles get their fully white head and tail feathers at age four or five years, and mature wingspan may be seven to eight feet. 

Bald Eagles fledge — take their first flight — at 12 to 14 weeks of age. This year’s Heritage Park eagles probably hatched three to six days apart and may be 10 to 11 weeks old now. But predicting first flight is uncertain. A single eaglet was hatched by the same parents in Heritage Park on about the same schedule in 2012, and it didn’t fledge until the first week of August.

 Visible Progress

In the few days since July 4, both of this year’s eaglets have been hopping onto branches noticeably farther from the nest than the more advanced of the two had been attempting on the holiday. Both are flapping and stretching their wings, working on muscle development and coordination in preparation for flight on a day soon when there’s a good breeze.

They were both seen on the weekend tearing up their own food after it was delivered by a parent, a developmental milestone reached on average but  the advanced of the two apparently not reached on the Fourth.

               Eastside Audubon invites members of the community to post their photos of the eagles and their nest on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/eastsideaudubon, where updates on the eagles’ progress also will be posted as available.

 About Eastside Audubon

Eastside Audubon is the National Audubon Society chapter active in Bellevue, Bothell, Carnation, Duvall, Issaquah, Kirkland, North Bend, Redmond, Sammamish, Snoqualmie, Woodinville, and unincorporated East King County.

Eastside Audubon works to protect, preserve, and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife, and people. We welcome new and experienced birders on our birding walks and field trips and in our birding classes.”

Check the society’s website for more information, or to take a class.

 

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