At Peak Now!
THE GREAT AMERICAN EAGLE
During spring, adult eagles return to breeding grounds when weather and food permit, usually January–March. They move north rather rapidly even though conditions at their breeding grounds are not yet ideal because their biological clocks are telling them breeding time is near. The hormonal drive to initiate nest building and courtship outweigh the possible difficulties in finding food during this time.
Migrating eagles, usually adults like the one pictured here, fly during the day at speeds averaging 30 miles per hour. To help them soar, eagles use thermals, which are rising currents of warm air and up-drafts generated by terrain, such as valley edges or mountain slopes. Soaring is achieved with very little wing-flapping, enabling them to conserve energy. Long-distance flights are accomplished by climbing high in a thermal and then gliding downward to catch the next thermal, where the process is repeated.
Eagles return to breed on the same nesting site year after year, adding to and repairing an existing nest. Both the male and female carry materials to the nest, but the female does most of the placement. They weave the sticks and fill in the cracks with softer materials such as grass, moss, or cornstalks.
Pictured on the right is an adult female and her young offspring. As you can see, the young bird is all brown right now but as he matures, his beak will turn golden and his head will be become white. At that point, he will be full grown.
The eagle pair usually constructs the nest in the crux of a tall tree located on the edge of a forested area near a body of water with plenty of fish.
This great bird is often seen during Cape Water Tours' ECO TOUR and other cruises. Our cruises are much more than a boat ride!
Photos by Kim Dare