Monday, May 7, 2012

Update on Eagle Chick

While we wait patiently to see if the adult eagles return to the nest, we thought we would take a moment to respond to some of the questions we have received in the past 48 hours.

Many have wondered if the eaglet is male or female – a distinction that is very hard to make at this age. As male and female bald eagles differ only in size, it can be quite challenging to identify sex in a three week or younger chick. The only way at this point to know for sure would be to do a DNA test. Or just wait until it grows up. The eaglet’s weight was another common question – a little over 1 kilogram or 2.5 pounds!

What did we leave in the nest with Harmon? We left several pieces of fish in the nest when we returned the eaglet. We know that the most important cue for the adults to return to the nest is the eaglet’s food begging cries – our hope in leaving the fish was that once the adults came in, they would not have to take the time to hunt, but would have “fast food” available with which to feed Harmon.

Did we stay in the area to see what happened? What happens next? While we took care to note the presence of the male and female perched about a ¼ mile away, we attempted to leave the nest area as quickly as possible. One of our major concerns is that eagles will often abandon their nests if disturbed during nesting. Clearly, this whole episode has been a major disturbance, albeit necessary if the eaglet was to survive. We – like you – are waiting patiently to see if the parents will come back this morning. And as we wait, we are in discussions on the next phase of Harmon’s journey should the parents not return to care for him.

Stay tuned for more updates.  Photo 1: There was water in the bucket of the boom truck, and so Dr. Ponder set the eagle chick on the ground so it could rest while they worked.  Photos 2-3: Jim Mussell takes good care of the chick as the bucket lifts them to the nest.  Photo 4: Jim brings the chick to the nest. 


  1. Thanks so much for this info. I only wish all the concerned people from Harmon Nation would find their way here, to gain some understanding and patience.

  2. He's getting weak. He's not even lifting his head to make the peep noise! And the peeps are fewer and fewer! What are you waiting for???

  3. Why did they have to remove him from the nest?

  4. The chick's wing was trapped by the nest structure. It struggled for hours to free it before the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a special permit to allow intervention. Jim Mussel, tree-climber and avian expert, noted the chick's poor condition and chose to remove it. For more information, look at previous posts.

  5. Cant they amplify the chicks calls and play them louder so the parents will hear, also play a recording of him calling so even when hes asleep or not chirping theyll still hear his calls