[Bristol-Birds] eaglets ready to leave South Fork Holston nest













      South Fork Holston adult Bald Eagles watch over nest.
                              (Digiscoped photo by John Kelly)

Two well-developed eaglets enjoyed the wind
this afternoon and frequently stood high in their
nest along the South Fork Holston River in
Sullivan Co., TN to flap their long wings and
exercise flight muscles.

They are now estimated to be about 12 weeks
of age and ready to fledge (to acquire the feathers 
necessary for flight).  The eaglets will leave the nest
but remain close in the area for four or five weeks, taking 
short flights while their primary feathers grow and strengthen. 

Their parents will still provide all of their food during 
that period.

Sunday afternoon, Jim Elliott, John Kelly, Chris Hiter
and Wallace Coffey watched as the chick's father
arrived at the nest, bringing food to the young.  This 
is the first time we have actually seen one of the 
parents bring food.

The mother was perched several hundred feet away
in a leafless tree watching the nest.  She had been
there for an hour or so, enjoying the evening sun.

The adult male only stayed at the nest for just a few
brief minutes before dropping low over the ground 
and flying to his mate.  He then perched on a limb
above her.

Dangerous days are just ahead and the next month
will be the most challenging of the eaglet's lives. The
mortality rate upon leaving the nest is extremely high.

Bob Cheers and Alice Cheers have been keeping 
close watch over the nestlings.  A week ago he called
to say they were acquiring the yellow color at the base
of the bill which is an early sign they are fledging.

Kevin Hamed called just before 11 a.m. today to say
he had seen an adult Bald Eagle (missing several
primary flight feathers in its right wing) fly across I-81
just north of Exit 10.  Meanwhile, Peggy Herbert 
reported and adult eagle at the Clifton Farm not far
from Lebanon, VA in Russell County.

Are those eagles nesting somewhere nearby ?

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN




 

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