Saturday, April 08, 2006

Update on the Wilson Bridge Eagles

Today's Post has a followup to yesterday's story about the Wilson Bridge bald eagles. Since Martha was taken to Delaware for rehabilitation, George has been tending the nest by himself. Now it appears at least one chick may have hatched.

So far, the male bird is caring for the nest by himself, and yesterday, he showed the first sign of feeding a chick. From a distance, bridge project environmental specialist Stephanie R. Spears could see him holding fish in his talons, then bending over the nest. Eagles shred food with their beaks and offer tiny pieces to their chicks.

"I think we've got a young hatchling," Spears said from her cellphone as she watched the nest late in the afternoon. "It looks hopeful that it's feeding behavior."

It is expected to be several weeks before Martha is ready to return to the nest, assuming that her wounds heal. Those two weeks will be the most crucial to the young chicks' survival, as this is when they are most vulnerable, both to other predators and the cold temperatures of early April.

The prospect of the chicks not making it has led some wildlife officers to propose moving the chicks to a nearby nest, though they seem reluctant to do so. I tend to agree. It would be better to see if George can manage on his own for a short time. If he cannot, there really is not much harm done to the local eagle population.

Further Update (4/9): Martha's condition has been improving and her chances of a full recovery without infection look good. Meanwhile, George seems to have the situation at the nest under control, for now at least.