EagleCam Update - April 10, 2020

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minnesota department of natural resources

EagleCam Update

April 10, 2020

hungry chicks

Life can be brutal in the wild

Evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin called it survival of the fittest. The natural world has a way of adapting to its environment.  An animal's behavior, strengths, and physical characteristics are a reflection of its biology, as well as its environment.  An individual animal's survival isn't a matter of nature versus nurture; nature and nurture together determine the survival of the animal, and the species. 

What this means is that the strongest individuals survive and pass on to their offspring the genetic material that gave them survival advantages. Even if an animal was born with an advantageous genetic make-up, it still needs to withstand the harsh environment it's born into.

We have witnessed the challenging conditions that the eggs, and then the chicks have had to live through to get to this point.  It's not easy being raised in a nest 100 feet off the ground, in a wet, cold, windy and sometimes snowy nest of sticks and grass. 

From now on, the eaglets need to survive each other and defend themselves, as well as dealing with a harsh environment. They are born with strong survival and territorial instincts.  The larger chicks pick on the smaller ones.  They can really bash on each other's heads, and that's difficult to watch.  This behavior toughens up the smaller chick, or it kills it.  If it does survive, it means that chick will carry on the genetics of resilience and durability to its own offspring, thereby helping the bald eagle population stay robust and healthy into the future.  

There may be brutal moments ahead, dramatic scenes in the nest that, over the coming weeks, some people may prefer not to watch.  This is real nature, not Disney. As the siblings compete for food, their instincts make them fight each other to get bites.  This fighting behavior can be tough to watch, but it helps them grow into strong adults who will be capable of fending off predators as well as other eagles. Sometimes the youngest chick does not live to fledging (leaving the nest).  This has happened in our nest twice before.  The youngest chick died because it was not strong enough to endure the competition for food.  One year, the dead chick was fed to its siblings.  It became a food source that provided the two surviving chicks with protein and all of the nutrients eagle chicks need for growth. If even one chick survives, the species continues. Watch at your own discretion in the coming days, understanding that this is just how nature works.   

Stress Reduction

Did you know that listening to bird songs and calls can help improve a person’s mood and focus? Birds have numerous impacts on our environment and our lives. That’s why we’re proud to protect and preserve Minnesota’s bird population. #WhyBirdsMatter https://www.3billionbirds.org/why-birds-matter

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Why (are About Birds? Birds And Their Habitat Support Your Health nabci Experiencing nature can improve physical health and decrease stress. In fact, listening to bird songs and calls can help improve a person's mood and focus! DiaT-# 3billionbirds.org/why-birds-matter'

Also, be sure to check out our Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook page (You DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to view posts and photos). We also post EagleCam updates on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources page and via Twitter, so be sure to follow @mndnr.

Visit the DNR EagleCam: mndnr.gov/eaglecam

Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program

DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program helps preserve and protect thousands of Minnesota wildlife species, some of them threatened or endangered.  The program is supported almost entirely through voluntary donations, either directly or by designating an amount to donate on your Minnesota individual income tax form (look for the loon). Donations help us restore habitats, conduct crucial surveys and monitoring, engage in outreach and education (like our Eagle and Falcon cams), and complete other important projects.  Visit mndnr.gov/nongame to learn more.