Meet the Nestlings — What’s Next?

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 8.12.22 AMWritten By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation

Our story thus far:  The first egg hatched on Saturday, March 26. The second eaglet arrived Monday morning, March 28. Both adults were feeding the chicks this morning at the same time.

What’s next? Here’s what to expect,  according to Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Larissa has worked for CWF’s Bald Eagle Project for 15 years.

* Recently hatched eaglets will have a grayish-white down called natal down, covering their bodies.

* When the adults feed the chicks, they will shred of pieces of meat or fish from the prey and coax the eaglet to eat by putting the food in their beak. Feeding sessions will be the best time to see the new eaglet.

* Young eagles are not able to regulate their own body temperature for a few weeks so a large portion of the time the chick will be under the adult being kept warm “brooding.”Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 8.12.24 AM* Around 10 days of age they will start to get their second coat of down which is a darker, woollier down called thermal down.

This coat acts as an insulator and by 15 days the chicks are able to regulate their body temperature themselves.

* Their yellow feet will look large compared to their bodies.

* Both their feet and bills grow to adult size first, giving them a slightly awkward appearance until their bodies catch up.

They will be moving around the nest more.

* The more chicks, the more food the adults will need to bring to the nest. If there is an abundant food supply it shouldn’t be a problem.

There is sibling rivalry between the chicks and sometimes a younger chick won’t always survive. The youngest of three Duke Farms chicks in 2009 did survive and is thriving.

These are experienced eagle parents, so having just the two chicks this year should be a piece of cake for them.

* Eagle chicks do have predators — Great-horned Owls, raccoons. Other eagles are also a threat,  and this has been documented on several other eagle cams.

Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at

Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher” columnist for The Record and the Herald-News. He is the author of four coffee-table books about wild places, and the deputy marsh warden of the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, N.J.

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2 Responses to Meet the Nestlings — What’s Next?

  1. Savta says:

    very interesting and helpful, thank you

  2. Gabrielle greenberg says:

    Th you so much for this extraordinary opportunity to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. I am also enjoying the live chats for all the knowledge people are sharing. l

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