I’ve been busy these last few months, and I haven’t gotten out the “Bird of the Month” the way I would like to. (Plus we’ve had a few website issues. I wish “website issues” were the main reason for my delay…lol.)
While I may have been busy, I’ve still managed to get out and get my fair share of birding in. (In the midst of a busy and demanding world, I hope you have too. Bird watching can be very therapeutic in the hustle and bustle of our society.)
One of the most exciting birding items over the last few months, for me personally, has been the opportunity to observe a few active bird nests. There is much going on around nests during the nesting season. Activity is nearly nonstop, and it’s amazing to see just how fast birds can grow.
Interestingly, one nest I observed had eggs hatch and the young were away from the nest in less than two weeks. The parents quickly started working on another brood, and then a third. I visited this nest again recently and it is now empty with no activity. On the other extreme another nest had young that hatched relatively early in the season and the young have just recently left the area. It is this later extreme nester I choose as the Bird of the Month.
Our Bird of the Month is the Bald Eagle.
Not so many years ago, it was a rather rare occasion to see a Bald Eagle in Indiana. But with no small effort on man’s part, the Bald Eagle is rebounding and actually reestablishing itself quite well in our state. Today, it doesn’t take “much” effort to see our national symbol in the Hoosier State.
Bald Eagles were reintroduced in Indiana between 1985 and 1989 at Monroe Lake. Birds from this reintroduction produced their first successfully, observed nest in 1991. Prior to 1991, the last documented successful eagle nest in Indiana was, believe it or not…1897. (I find that quite incredible.)
I took a friend with me to enjoy the activity around this nest a couple months ago. It was an amazing sight to see an adult fly in with a fish in its talon and then basically toss it into the nest for the young to feed. Just a few weeks prior to this, I had observed the feedings to be something akin to “tender moments”. A few weeks earlier the adults would tear off morsels from prey brought to the nest and gently fed the nestlings. But on this occasion, the adult flew in and simply pitched the meal into the nest and immediately flew off, leaving the three eaglets to themselves to feed. Soon, the adults wouldn’t even do that. They’d just bring food near; coaxing the young to leave the comforts of what ultimately confined and limited them.
I first noticed this nest over 4 years ago while I was out reconnoitering (I haven’t used that word since my Army days…lol) and checking out nesting sites for an upcoming “Birdathon” competition. While approaching what had been an active Red-tailed Hawk nest the previous year, I noticed the nest to be “substantially” bigger. Upon closer examination, I was able to spot, through some twigs that were part of the nest, the yellow eye of an adult Bald Eagle.
We Hoosiers can be pleased with how well Bald Eagles are doing in our state. I’m particularly happy with the productivity of this nest I’ve been observing for some time. Especially in light of the fact that the nest has so much, what I call, “People Pressure” due to its location. The nest has produced at least 10 young since I’ve been watching.
As summer is over, and all the nests I’ve observed this year are now empty, a thought comes to mind. Many of us experience a certain kind of melancholy when looking at an empty nest. A nest that we know was probably bustling with activity just a few weeks earlier. But I’m reminded of the words of a dear friend and fellow birder, Dr Drew Lanham. Drew is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University where he teaches, amongst many things, field ornithology. I heard him say once, “An empty bird nest is an analogy of hope.” I agree with that!