Friday, July 2, 2010

The Vanier Bald Eagle pair (For Azy and Melanie)

On Canada Day, a walk in Vanier Park turned into unexpected encounters that really enriched the day. While Bill and Black Jack explored the waterside, I stared up at the empty eagle nest. The last time we had visited, there had been no sign of the eaglets, and I suspected they had, by now, either fledged or met their demise. Suddenly, flapping wings on a branch well away from the nest caught my eye.

I remembered from my eagle cam-watching summer that eaglets do something called "branching" before they fledge, and I believe this is the stage the Vanier chicks are at now.
Here's a quote about branching, taken from this site.
But before either eaglet makes that scary first leap, they’ll spend a good bit of time branching. Branching is when the eaglets hop out onto the branches of their nest tree and perch there. This activity helps them develop their perching skills (remember they’ve been sitting in the nest all this time) and also gets them acclimated to maneuvering in and out of their nest and around the tree branches.

Bill came back with Black Jack, and was the first to spot the second chick, sitting on a branch high above the first one. It was looking down, and I'm convinced, thinking about taking that first leap. A young couple approached, wondering what we were looking at so intently, and the four of us stood for some time, watching the chicks, and talking together.

Almost 180 degrees head turn in this one.

Bill wondered what goes through a bird's mind when it takes its first flight. Is it.. "I'm free!" or maybe.. "Yikes, this is scary!" or perhaps.. a "Yippee, this is fun!" feeling? I wonder about that too. Somehow, I feel sure there is an exclamation mark at the end of whatever feeling best describes the experience.
Will I? Nah, not quite yet. But, maybe tomorrow?

This chick looked up.. see its parent flying above. A seagull was hot on its trail.

The parent turned to give a warning, and the seagull gave up the chase a second later.

The parent allowed me some close-up views before it landed.

It was really fun sharing this experience with Azy and Melanie. They hadn't known about the eagle nest, and were very excited. Huge eagle fans, they even have engravings of eagles on their wedding rings.
All the best to the two of you. I hope there will be many happy eagle-watching years ahead!


  1. Neat photos of the chicks! But we're not anthropomorphizing there, are we??

  2. A couple that shares similar interests is sure to have many happy years ahead. :) Interesting thought about what a baby bird might experience when about to take its first leap out of the nest. In humans it would be apprehension due to uncertain results of an action. Although a bird’s thought process is different, there must be some inborn apprehension or sense of danger for the sake of preservation. But it is a puzzler!