Birding Longboat Key, Florida...continued from yesterday's American Bald Eagle post.
I need to back up just a bit. The photos of the eagle and eaglet in yesterday's post were taken in the afternoon in wonderful sunlight, but my day of birding with Rick (the Sarasota Birding Guide) started at 7:30 a.m. before dawn had crept her rosy fingers across the sky, so it was still fairly dark. To compensate for the lack of sunlight, I upped the camera's ISO to 1600 and hoped for the best. The high ISO made these photos a little fuzzy, but that's okay. We can see what they're doing, and that's good!
Rick said the two eaglets were expected to fledge any day, and they showed it by flapping their wings over and over and hopping from branch to branch (branching). They also would jump down into the nest from branches higher in the tree, and several times it seemed like they were about to soar out for that first flight. Last year’s eaglets were in no hurry to leave the nest, and the parents actually had to start dismantling the nest to encourage the eaglets to fledge. I wonder if this year’s brood will want to hang around for extra time too?
These eaglets were expected to fledge any day. You can really see personality differences and facial differences between the two. They don't look to happy with each other in this photo!
Here they are looking at papa in a tree across the path, probably hoping for breakfast!
...what a wingspan! When the first eaglet started flapping her wings, her huge size became apparent.
...not to be outdone, the second juvenile joins in.
...this photo cracks me up. The first eaglet turned her head upside down as she looked at her brother. She seems to be thinking, "What are you doing? Your form is all wrong!"
...she still seemed a bit confused with the second eaglet's flapping form and branching skills.
...but he does just fine as he hops down to the nest below.
The first eaglet goes back to flapping her wings. When the eaglets practice flapping their wings and branching, they are strengthening their muscles, but they are also developing their perching skills. Up to this point they've spent most of their time sitting in the nest. To walk along the branch and perch, they use their wings to help them move their talons.
...hopping to the nest below.
...time for a rest.
I wonder if she has fledged yet...
I'm just guessing this eaglet is a female. She was larger than the other eaglet, so since female hawks and eagles are larger than males, I made her a female!