Saturday, March 19, 2011

PART 1b Eagle Nest- the Resident Sandhill Cranes

4:55:34pm I'm told by the landowners that these Sandhill Cranes come back every year and nest in the exact same spot. Sometimes they get flooded out but they are hooked on that particular bit of ground. I was walking on the lane between corn fields and about the time I got to the spot that the lane began to go into the marsh, this pair decided I needed to be threatened off if possible.

4:55:36pm They came from the west, flew past to the east, trumpeting most of the time. They are loud, very loud. I recorded them so you could hear them but so far I haven't been able to get it to load. I'll keep working on it.

4:55:37pm They fly closer. Note both beaks are open.

4:56:02 Then they fly back the other direction. Still trumpeting. I know I'm not actually disturbing their nest as I'm on the lane which is sporadically used by people and eggs have not been laid as yet. Many S
Sandhills are still migrating through. (If I were on a tractor they likely wouldn't come after me. These rural birds view moving tractors much the way they see the rest of the landscape. They are just one more part of it and tractors aren't a problem. Similar to the attitude of the County M Red-tails.

4:56:03pm No trumpeting. Taking stock?

4:56:06pm Still staring? And then I realize a large bird has appeared in the far north treeline.

5:01:14pm That near the nest and that size, it must be one of the eagles.

5:01:16pm He appears to be coming this way.

5:01:20pm Definitely coming this way and definitely an American Bald Eagle.

5:01:20pm I'm thinking that the cranes saw him coming and decided to let him take care of things. Or they may have been doing some trespassing themselves and figured they'd better make a hasty retreat.

5:01:35pm Here is the first instance of the tip of the twigs perching of the day. Is the bird intentionally trying for my focus and therefore I won't focus on the nest?

5:01:37pm He has to spread his wings to remain balanced. Why not perch on the tower?

5:01:38pm The geese standing on the ice of the small pond now put up a tremendous honking just as the eagle heads for the electrical tower. I turn to look at the geese. Are they reacting to the eagle or to me?

5:03:08 Some of the geese standing on the ice are honking but I also realize that some of the honking is coming from the larger pond on the other side of the transformers. I turn around to check on the eagle on the tower and he's gone. Very clever.

According to the land owners, two years ago the power company got a right of way and put in the high voltage lines. Two years ago the eagles showed up and nested. Interesting.

First the lane I'm on went between two cornfields, it then proceeded to run through a marsh bisected by a treeline.

5:03:27pm Then it disappeared into the marsh and picked up again round this curve which is on it's way to being a crick. Though the real crick meanders through a little further down. When I turn the corner I
walk past an opening in this first treeline. Then walk into the marsh, over a rudimentary bridge, currently the crick is only a couple of feet wide, and then I'll be in the field sized marsh that constitutes the very large front yard to the eagle's nest which in in the NEXT treeline over.

5:05:13pm The lane continues under this arch of trees. And here comes an eagle. Same eagle? Different eagle? Who can tell at this point.

5:06:30 Whomever is coming my way.

5:06:32 His beak is open and he's making that not very loud whistle, squeak sound that Eagles make. I wonder what the evolutionary advantage of that is? It's not very startling or scary. Though the beak is large and so are the talons, compared to what I'm used to anyway. Do realize I'm not very close at all to the nest.

5:06:34pm Eagle doesn't like the camera and does a very nifty mid-air turn back when I raise it to my eye.

5:06:36 I tend to think that eagles look like they are glaring most of the time. It no doubt is just how they look but then again one never knows particularly in this case.


5:06:38pm Eagle brakes a little. Still keeping an eye on me.

5:06:40 Then off toward the nest treeline.

I lose him. There must be an eagle in that foliage but I currently can't see him.

5:07:09pm It takes me a minute to find eagle. Same eagle? Different eagle? Eagle looks up and northwest (left). I look too. I don't see anything. which of course doesn't mean a thing when it comes to whether eagle sees something or not. The mate?

5:07:10 Eagle looks up and out.

5:07:11 Eagle looks at me.

5:07:11pm Eagle looks up toward eastern sky. (Is other Eagle passing by?)

5:07:17pm Suddenly another eagle appears above the treeline.

5:07:18pm Another example of the perching on the tippy top twig.

5:07:19pm I think it is an attention getting device. He's doing all sorts of gyrations.

5:07:20pm I admit the wind is picking up.

5:07:21pm It is such an obvious perch.

5:07:22 He gets a grip.

5:07:25 Eagle stares at me.

I look back at the nest. There doesn't appear to be an adult on it. But there is an eagle flying into the area. It was a diversion! I look back for Tippy Top Eagle and he's gone.

5:09:40 Drat! Now where is nest eagle?

5:09:52pm Ah, ha! See the thicker branchs that criss cross just above the nest? Now follow them to the right. You'll first come across a brown lump between the two branches, eagle? Then look a "couple feet" further right. See the white tail end under the top branch and the wings above. (I did not see them there as the distance was so great even with magnification. I only saw them when I zoomed the photo on the computer. )

5:09:53pm ?

5:09:54pm Both have obviously changed position. Where?

5:09:55pm Whoa! Eagle is back.

5:09:57pm Circling.

No eaglet heads popping up. (I keep writing hawklet instead of eaglet and we don't even call them hawklets. It isn't easy shifting species.)

5:12:49pm See Mom (?) perched above and right.

5:13:05pm She lands on the edge of the nest and does the thing parent raptors tend to do after they've been gone. Just checking. Everybody here? Anything happen?

Ah, parent in nest.

I know. You'd rather I'd fall in the marsh and go home.

5:14:16pm Looking at eaglets?


5:17pm Looking at me. See where I get the idea that they glare?

5:21pm Mom calls , beak to west.

5:22pm She continues to vocalize. I can't hear her.

5:24pm She looks out with focus.

5:27pm Looks east.

5:41PM Looks west.

Peers through twigs. (Sorry about the chromatic aberration. Documentation remember.)


She's still doing what she's been doing. Scroll down to Park 2. There will still be another short section to come--Part 1a.

( 3/21/2011, 1:13am Currently it has been raining all day, with a particularly bad bout of thunder and lightening late in the day. If it's possible to get anywhere near them now that so much snow and ice has melted I'll go and check on everybody Monday.)

Donegal Browne