EagleCam Update - Special Edition for April 13, 2020

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minnesota department of natural resources

EagleCam Update

April 13, 2020

E3 competing for food

Life can be brutal in the wild

We have sad news from our EagleCam this morning.  As we suspected might happen, little E3 (the third chick that hatched) has died.  The chick never caught up in size to its two slightly older siblings, and competition for food has been fierce.  We watched the chick fight hard, and it was alive as of last evening. But this morning there has been no movement.  The parents have not yet removed or recycled its body and it remains in the nest bole. 

Because of the competition for food, the oldest chick (E1) is very aggressive in its instinctive behavior to survive.  This is normal chick behavior, and it is seen in all eagle nests.  E1 is significantly larger than E3 was, and consistently overpowered its youngest sibling at feedings.  This behavior will continue until the chicks begin to self-feed.  Self-feeding will take place when there is enough food in the nest for leftovers.

Our natural human reaction is to ask why this happened.  We have taken note that there has been a lack of substantial food deliveries by the parents.  There is fierce competition with other wildlife and between other adult eagles for available food sources.  While our camera does not capture what is happening on the ground or in the skies surrounding the nest, it would appear that food is scarce.  We do know there are many eagles in this area.  This pair is new to parenting, and may not be skilled enough to handle three extra mouths to feed (in addition to their own).  Lack of automobile traffic near the nest is producing fewer road killed animals as well. 

While we are saddened E3 did not survive, this will give the remaining two chicks better odds at survival.  They will be better fed, stronger and more resilient when the time comes to leave the nest. Keep in mind that we had no eggs last year, and  the year before that, eggs were laid, but none hatched. Nature is all about survival of the species, which in many ways is a function of the law of averages. Over the eight years we've been privileged to peek inside this nest, 10 eagles have successfully fledged and flown away into the world.

We thank you for your interest in and dedication to the real-world drama that unfolds in this treetop nest. We know this has been a difficult, but rewarding season so far for eagle lovers.

And special thanks to everyone who has donated to the Nongame Wildlife Fund!  Your contributions make it possible for our hard-working team to bring this 24/7 spectacle into homes and classrooms around the world. We couldn't do it without your support.

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.