Eagle Cam update - EGG WATCH

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Domesticity and Defense

We’ve continued to see the two adult eagles around the nest during this past week. Fresh sticks, grasses and sedges have appeared in the nest on several days, and the pair have been seen perfecting the layout of the nest. The adult eagles have been bringing food items to the nest and nest tree. We’ve seen muskrats, squirrels and rabbits -- pretty typical fare.

 Defense continues to be a top priority for this pair too. A particularly dramatic late night defense against a very sorry raccoon was recently witnessed by some of our eagle fans with sharp eyes!

 This week a juvenile bald eagle has been seen in and around the nest, even “helping” the nest’s pair with some stick arranging. Juvenile bald eagles are about the same size as their parents, but their coloring is different. The juveniles are a mottled brown and white all over, with a brown beak and brown eyes. The characteristic dark body, yellow beak, white head and tail don’t develop until the birds reach maturity at about five years of age.

 We don’t know if this juvenile eagle hatched from this nest. Regardless of its origin, if it crosses paths with the adults, it’s likely to some firm encouragement to find a different hang-out. This tough love by the mature adults is necessary to ensure that the young quickly learn what they need to know in order to eventually give back to the population.

 Egg watch

The eagles’ behavior suggest that it won’t be long before they have some eggs to brood over. We can hardly wait! Here’s when the first egg appeared in the previous four years we’ve been watching this pair:

  • 2016: Jan. 25
  • 2015: Jan. 19
  • 2014: Feb. 14
  • 2013: First week in January


Winter warm spells: Good for more than lifting spirits

With temperatures predicted to rise above freezing for the next few days, it’s a great time to get out and see what’s going on in the natural world around us. There’s something about a winter warm spell that lifts our spirits and reminds us that spring is on its way.

 One species that is especially excited about this warm spell is the wood frog. Unique among amphibians, it’s one of only a few species that endures cold winter temperatures by freezing like an ice cube. Don’t believe it? Check out this amazing video clip!

 While the wood frog embraces the cold, most other amphibians avoid it. Frogs, toads and salamanders typically avoid freezing by overwintering in habitats with stable, above-freezing temperatures, such as lake bottoms and burrows below the frost line.

Wood frogs, on the other hand, use a suite of physiological and ecological strategies to tolerate subfreezing temperatures. They accumulate high concentrations of substances called “cryoprotectants” in their cells that act as antifreeze. One of these cryoprotectants is glucose, which increases when frogs experience repeated freeze-thaw cycles. So winter warm spells like the one we’re experiencing now allow wood frogs to temporarily thaw, increase their glucose levels, and better cope with harsh winter conditions.

 While you’re not likely to see any amphibians until spring, there’s plenty of opportunities to view other wildlife species during this winter warm spell. In addition to a Minnesota state park system that’s second to none, Minneapolis and Saint Paul have the first and second highest-ranked urban park systems in the United States. Get out and enjoy them!


Help the eagle cam and other nongame wildlife species

Have you received your W2 forms yet, the statement of what you earned last year by getting up and going to work every day?

 The eagles in our eaglecam go to work every day, too, but they don’t get a paycheck. The 800-plus species that the Nongame Wildlife Program helps through habitat management, research and other activities rely upon your generosity.

 As you gather up your W2s and start filling out your income tax forms, look for the loon on line 21 of your Minnesota form and consider donating any amount you can. You can also donate directly online with a credit card, right now before it slips your mind.

 Thanks for your interest in Minnesota’s wildlife, and for your ongoing support of the Nongame Wildlife Program, which has been bringing you live streaming video from an eagle’s nest for the past four years.