The Bald Eaglet at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands has reached the halfway point of its journey to leaving the nest and being independent. Rapid growth has occurred, and many skills have been learned with still more to accomplish.
Week 7 (43 to 49 days)
- The eaglet’s appetite is the greatest at this point.
- The parents spend most of their time out hunting for food to provide to the eaglet.
- The eaglet spends a lot of time stretching its wings, flapping, learning to get wind under its wings, and maybe even slightly hovering with feet off the nest. Some use the term “wingers” for this stage in growth and development.
- Most growth is in strength.
- The eaglet looks like a full-statured adult except for coloring, and feather growth will continue through fledge.
- The wings may be seen drooping due to their weight because of feather growth and the blood supply supporting it.
- The eaglet’s movements are more coordinated in walking, standing, moving about and now going to the edge of the nest for their PS (post-prandial slice, or the elimination of waste which is both liquid and solid).
Week 8 (50 to 56 days)
- The eaglet now shows aggression and mantling with food delivery. (Mantling is seen as spreading its wings to make itself bigger and is usually accompanied with vocalizations to claim the food prize.)
- The beak is blue black, near adult size, and the eyes are dark brown (will not change to the golden color until closer to maturity).
- If more than one eaglet were in the nest, this is a period when they would steal food from each other.
- Whenever a parent lands on the nest, whether it has food or not, it is rushed and grabbed at, often having its toes attacked with the eaglet expecting a food delivery.
- The eaglet continues to be very aware of surroundings outside the nest — to imprint on the natal area (the nest and its immediate surroundings) and to track other birds flying around.
- This is a very sensitive period in the eaglet’s development given that any disturbance could lead to premature jumping from the nest.