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Posts Tagged ‘incubation’

Monday, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting in the large nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and my first thought was that the eagle couple had already begun to sit on eggs in the nest. When I thought about it for a moment, though, I realized that was probably not the case—when one of the eagles is incubating an egg, it tends to sit really low in the nest and is hidden from view. This eagle seemed to be perched rather high in the nest and flew away from it a few moments after I spotted it.

I was pretty happy to be able to compose this shot so that the eagle is clearly visible and you can get a sense of the massive size of the nest. I worry sometimes that the weight of the nest will cause it to collapse during a rain or wind storm, but it has held up remarkably well during the five or so years that I have been watching it.

It shouldn’t be too long before actual incubation begins. According to the journeynorth.org website, the incubation period is 24-36 days. “Adults share incubation duties. Nest exchanges may occur after only an hour but usually take several hours between exchanges. Frequently the incoming adult brings a new branch or fresh vegetation for the nest, then the incubating adult carefully stands and takes off while the other settles over the eggs and rakes nesting material up against its body.”

Additionally the adult eagles have to also need to turn the eggs about once an hour to ensure that the eggs are evenly heated and that the embryos don’t stick to the insides of the shells. Be sure to check out the linked website for more fascinating facts about the process of bald eagle incubation.

Bald Eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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