While we humans below the branches of a tall cottonwood tree along the Iowa River at Coralville’s Iowa River Landing have been preoccupied with the effects of coronavirus on our communities, a pair of Bald Eagles has been raising a family of two young eagles in that tree as if nothing were more important!
According to the species account for Bald Eagles in Birds of the World (HawkID login required), juveniles may depart the nest at any time between 8 and 14 weeks. Based on observations of this nest in late February and early March, this pair of juveniles are now likely somewhere between 8 and 11 weeks old. So, first flight, also known as fledging, could take place most any time now!
This pair of juveniles has already begun branching, which means moving from the nest to other branches in the tree while stretching and flapping their wings, a prelude to first flight. This can be an exciting time to observe the young eagles if you happen to catch them in action.
However, please be as respectful of the birds as possible and observe good etiquette. The eagles’ choice of nest site with close proximity to human foot and bicycle traffic makes this a somewhat unusual challenge.
Although the nest is highly visible from the paved path, depending on the time of day, the juvenile eagles may or may not be visible in the nest.
Sometimes they may be resting inside but below the rim of the nest, at other times feeding in the nest, and at others perched on a branch off to the side of the nest.
Juvenile Bald Eagles do not have the white head and white tail characteristic of an adult; it takes about 5 years to acquire adult plumage. It is not uncommon to see one of the adult eagles perched on a nearby tree.
For details of the nest location see the Sciences Library News post for April 13, 2020. For best viewing binoculars are recommended!
If you would like help locating additional information on Bald Eagles, don’t hesitate to contact us at the Sciences Library.
Many thanks to Kai Weatherman for authoring this uplifting post and sharing his beautiful photography with us!