Bald Eagles Bring Us Moments of Awe
One of refresh camera's that Africam viewers can take a peek at is theBlackwater Eagle Cam. With a camera set up above the nest, we watch as the adults prepare the nest, lay eggs, and nurture them until they fledge. Thank you to Lisa for sharing the following information on the nest and its surroundings!
The Blackwater Eagle Cam first went live during the 2004-2005 season and it's been at the same nest every year since. We don't band the eagle adults on our Eagle Cam, so we can't say for sure if this is the same pair, but we do know bald eagles mate for life and are very loyal to their nests, so at the very least, we believe this is the same pair from the last few seasons.
The Blackwater Eagle Cam is located at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay (the largest estuary in the U.S.). Blackwater NWR is one of over 550 national wildlife refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. So our eagles are very lucky that they live on a protected refuge.Blackwater NWR is known for having one of the largest breeding populations of bald eagles in the U.S. The eagles like to nest in this area because it's protected, has tall trees for nesting, shallow water for fishing, and plenty of waterfowl in the winter when the fishing becomes harder due to winter ice.
Blackwater NWR does have some management issues, as many natural habitats do. Water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are rising, and the refuge staff have to deal with saltwater encroachment at the refuge. Also in the past, the refuge staff have had to battle invasive species, like the non-native nutria, a large rodent like animal, which was eating the marsh plants and destroying many acres of wetlands. There is some development pressure in the general area, but Blackwater is a large rural refuge (over 25,000 acres) and has a good bit of protected habitat around it (some of it owned by the state of Maryland), so the animals at the refuge are not pressured by urban or large suburban developments and human populations.
This year there are three chicks in the nest, but unlike some other eagle species, bald eagles are not known for killing the 2nd or 3rd chick to ensure the survival of the 1st. While the first eaglet that hatched will rule the roost, unless there is a shortage of food, all three will most likely survive and fledge.
Keep your eyes on the refresh cam as these eagles learn everything from hunting skills to soaring through the air with their parents.
But wait, this cam isnt' in Africa..so why are we watching this? Its quite simple, nature's glory isn't limited to Africa. So when the opporunity arose to watch the eagle cam, sharing it with all our viewers was something we knew would be an added bonus. We hope you enjoy watching the nest as those tiny feathered chicks grow into magnificent birds of prey.