Nest Update 5-21-14 – Largest Crop Ever Seen??

Good Evening, Fellow Cottonwoodites!!

Dawn at the nest was just spectacular today.


Mom was seen where she had parked at dusk last night and Dad was across the way on the fledge perch branch. Arky and Dakota slept the sleep of the innocent in preparation for the days activities. Breakfish was a little late getting to the nest but it was well worth the wait. Dad brought in a huge fish and everyones crops were stuffed especially Dakota’s. Mom and Dad played tug-o-war with the fishtail and Dad won for once. The fish was finally finished in a feeding around midday and Dakotas crop reached world record size. It was literally so heavy he had trouble standing.


Even this pic doesn’t do it justice!

His crop was about three times the size he was when he hatched and caused him to sleep in awkward positions for the rest of the day. Arky had a full crop too so the rest of the day was spent much as the last few days were napping, trundling around the nest and practicing wing flaps. No bonks were witnessed today which I guess means everyone was happy with their share of the fish.

Speaking of bonks, our mod jreagle has given me a guest article on instinct and aggression that is very relevant to the situation on this nest and most other nests, too.

Instinct Equals Survival

Hello there, everyone.  I thought it would be fun to take a look at  “instinct” and apply it to some of the behaviors we have already witnessed on nests  early in the 2014 nesting season.

We are well aware that adult bald eagles vigorously defend their nest territory against intruders.  We also know that the daily survival of these birds is constantly challenged by decreasing habitats and scarcity of prey.  The bald eagle  adjusts  as the surrounding situations change.  They will create a new nest in a different territory, or build a new nest in the same territory.

But, are the newly hatched chicks instinctively savvy?  The hatchlings immediately posture themselves for feeding.  They will struggle with each other to receive  adequate amounts for their rapid development.  They will physically attack each other for the opportunity to be fed.  This fierce survival instinct remains with the bald eagle for as long as it lives.  No human intervention is critical to maintain this strong survival instinct.

The instinct to reproduce is equally strong.  We have seen many times disruptive intrusions by eagles who have reached reproductive age trying to establish a territory or overtake a territory with a nest.  We have seen nest territories stolen by younger and stronger bald eagles overcoming the older and weaker birds.

 The time frame for reproduction is short, and maintaining the species is top priority for these birds.  As the eagles rebuild their nests for the upcoming nesting season, they will beak each other, they will perch together, initiate bonding activities leading up to a  few weeks of active mating.  If the mating is successful, egg(s) will be laid and incubated.  At hatch, the chick(s) chirp which throws the adult feed instinct into high gear.  Assuming plenty of prey, the chick(s) nor the adults will stress.   As the chicks grow the chirping continues until well after fledge as the adults are still needed to provide prey for the fledglings

Why are we now seeing more of these aggressive behaviors?  Some feel the loss of habitat and territorial saturations have contributed to these confrontations. If the pair isn’t reunited, the mate may opt for a different mate.  These instincts will not wane.  The bald eagle is hatched a fierce competitor amongst it’s own species, whether related or not.

We have witnessed severe aggressive behaviors between new hatchlings that increases when prey is scarce, or there are active territorial intrusions.  These chicks are not bullys, they are not bad eagle chicks,  they are not piglets, they represent and validate the instincts that have allowed the bald eagle to rebuild their populations.  The saturation of habitat may cause more territorial conflicts, but the end result could be a much stronger eagle population.

I hope that you will now take an appreciative view of the fierce instinctive behaviors that we witness on these nests.  I hope that you will observe and appreciate the protective measures eagles take to keep their territory and protect the nest against aggressors.  I hope that you will observe with curiosity the aggressive behaviors of a hatchling towards it’s sibling. I hope that you will appreciate these instincts and understand that survival is the purpose. These eagles and eaglets are being just that—eagles and eaglets.

Thanks for reading and see you all on the nest!!


Thanks, JR, great read.

The rest of the day on the nest was calm and peaceful, filled with PS’s, naps, and cuddle puddles. As darkness fell one P was on the high perch and the eaglets were sleeping contentedly.

On to the vids of the day and maybe some more pics too!

MNBound Eagles ~ Time Lapse ~ Sunrise On The Nest ~ M & D Perched

MN Bound Eagles 5-21-14 BIG Breakfish ~ Tug of War ~ Nesting Clump

MN Bound Eagles 5-21-14 Arky & Dakota Learn Nest Chores ~ Panning

MN Bound Eagles 5-21-14 Feathers & Talons ~ Afternoon Panning

And a few more pics of the day!

The Twilight Zone somehow seems appropriate here.

The Twilight Zone somehow seems appropriate here.



Well, shiver me timbers and tickle me toes....

Well, shiver me timbers and tickle me toes….

First one I've caught partially closed

First one I’ve caught partially closed

Nice and quiet this time of day!

Nice and quiet this time of day!

Did you see the crop on Dakota???

Did you see the crop on Dakota???

I hope your middle of the week day was as nice as the one on the nest! We’ll see you there tomorrow!


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5 thoughts on “Nest Update 5-21-14 – Largest Crop Ever Seen??

  1. Jo

    HOLY MOLY wouldya look at the crop on ‘Kota!! Talk about a built in pillow! LOL Bet ‘Kota did find it hard to lay down after that feeding…talk about reflux LOL

    Great blog and videos and thanks JR for the info you contributed, too.

  2. Dawn

    Thank you so much for these daily posts. I so look forward to reading them EVERY day. Talon, you are incredible and make me laugh with your blogs. They brighten my day. I also enjoy watching these eagles/eaglets. They make my day as well. I’m learning more and more. I’ve been watching for 3 years now and can’t get enough of them. I actually watch a couple different nests. I really like the blog the other day about “the circle of life” and everyone has a part to play. As hard as it is to know some animal had to give up it’s life, it’s a comfort to know that it’s being consumed to better another life. I also really enjoyed this latest blog by jreagle. I have a true respect for these beautiful raptors and until I started watching I always loved eagles and thought them beautiful but I’ve learned so much more about them and now have a true understanding and appreciation for them. Although the “bonking” is instinct it is (as a human) hard to watch. LOL. Although both Arky and Dakota are thriving and becoming eagles, when Arky gets aggressive I just want to tap his/her beak and tell him/her to be nice. I know Dakota will bonk back and become aggressive some time soon.

    Again, thank you for your wonderful blogs everyday and the time you spend to do that for us. It does not go unappreciated. 🙂 You have a beautiful gdaughter by the way.

  3. ElleninCanada

    Thank you for these wonderful blogs, pictures and videos. I love these eagles and am learning so much. I was very touched by the blog by someone the other day who said we all have our places in the world and duck gave her life as part of the cycle. Every farmer must have to be tough enough to think that way. Thank you.

  4. clakra

    The post from jreagle was most informative, thank you for including it. It seems that this is a universal trait. Even human children behave this way even though food is not always the issue.


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