Eagle Update, Jefferson's Reach. Eggs are Hatching!

March, 7-13, 2011.  Over the last week on the James River I've noticed an interesting change in the eagle's habits, which can only mean one thing,  eggs hatching! 

Normally, when one of the bald eagles feeds, it will sit, perched on a branch waiting for a dead fish to float by in the flow of the river's current.  Or they might fly overhead searching the surface of the river for the same.  Generally the bald eagles in Jefferson's Reach, after catching a shad or other fish, will fly to the bank of the river and onto one of their favorites branches in a tree. Once landed, they will work the fish firmly pinched in between the talons and branch and will tear apart the fish, piece by piece ... consuming the entire fish from head to tail.  Once finished, the eagle will clean it's beak by rubbing it all around the branch it's sitting on.

Over the last few days Baba & Pops and Varina & Enon have been catching fish and bringing them back to the nest.  I'm guessing there are little mouths to be fed with the change in habits.  It's very cool to watch this unfold on the River. 

The Photos Stories:  Top Left:  Cricket White took this image of Pops on a branch eating a gizzard shad.  This was the last shad I saw him eat before starting to take fish back to the nest.  It's hard to tell, but the eagle has the shad pinched between his talons and the branch.  It is easier to grab the fish and rip pieces off to eat.  Not alot of chewing going on here.

Middle Right:  Cricket White also took this image of Pops flying with the gizzard shad.  This is probably just before landing on a branch.  Pops is the mate of Baba, with whom he raised one eaglet last year.  On this day, Pops gave us a wonderful opportunity for eagle watching.  We floated nearby and watched him nearly finish the entire shad.