Twenty Nineteen is the third season a pair of Bald Eagles has nested on a bluff above Lake Natomas near Orangevale, CA. This year, as well as the last 2 years, this pair of eagles has produced 2 offspring. According to the volunteers that monitor the nest, the eggs were laid in late February and they hatched approximately March 26. One baby hatched 3 days before the other. This year, I decided to visit the nest weekly and post a set of images showing them as they grow. It’s been a great experience because I got to know some people who have been observing eagles for a long time. They were very happy to share their knowledge with me.
My first visit was MAR 31. On that visit, all I was able to see was a tiny patch of down just above the nest edge. At week 2, I could see a head. Although, it looked more like the stereotypical gray space alien with its long head and neck. By week 3, the yellow down had been replaced by a gray down that will remain as an underlayment for feathers throughout life. From week 3 to week 4, the eaglets had grown substantially. One image shows some sibling rivalry. At week 5, feathers are emerging. On the image, you can see the pin feathers on the wing. By week 7, the feathers had filled in substantially, but the flight feathers aren’t developed enough to support flight.
Mother and father eagle feed the oldest eaglet first and do so until it is full because if it is not satiated, it will kill the younger one. But, when they feed the younger one, they make sure it gets food by preventing the older one from stealing it.
The babies will fledge by mid-June. By the end of June, the babies will reach adult size. They will not fully mature for 2 – 5 years. It takes about 3 years to get their distinctive adult plumage. Mom and dad will leave the nest about July and leave the babies to fend for themselves. They will return about November to prepare the nest for next year. When they do, the babies will be invited to leave and told never to come back.
I will try to follow-up with some more images as the summer progresses.