Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


from the NCTC Website today:

Shepherdstown, WV – Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) has connected people to nature by streaming live video of a pair of American bald eagles to viewers across the country and abroad via a camera placed near the eagles’ nest.

The NCTC eagle cam serves as an educational tool to showcase eagle biology, including mating behavior, egg laying, incubation, and in a successful year, rearing eagle chicks until they are old enough to leave the nest. Although the NCTC campus is closed to the public (with the exception of the annual open house and occasional special events), the cam records video year round can be accessed online anytime at:

After many years of viewing the same pair of eagles, this year we have witnessed the process of natural competition within a species. Recently a third eagle, believed to be a female of breeding age, has been sighted near the nest and appears to be asserting control over the nest and surrounding territory. This is typical eagle behavior in a robust, healthy population and likely indicates that the eagle population near NCTC has increased in recent years.

In response to this behavior, many eagle cam viewers have expressed concern. It is important to highlight to our public viewers that the eagles residing on NCTC’s land are exposed to natural environmental pressures, including the presence of other eagles. At times the camera may be difficult to watch. While NCTC provides the opportunity to view live video of wild eagles, our position is not to interfere in any way.

Craig Koppie, regional eagle coordinator and raptor biologist at the Service’s Chesapeake Bay field office, is working closely with NCTC to monitor the situation. Koppe said, “there are times when intervention is not the correct course of action. Breeding birds are very sensitive to human disturbance, and interfering could result in abandonment of the nest.” Koppe also acknowledged that, “as hard as it is to watch an older generation of eagles potentially be displaced by a younger generation, we need to inform the public that the aggressive behavior we’re seeing is natural. The most fit individual will emerge as having control of the nest and surrounding territory, and this individual will go on to contribute to the next generation of eagles, keeping the species and the population strong.”

NCTC is committed to providing factual, science-based updates on current nest activity. To monitor these updates, please visit:

New thread.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011


Here's the update from FWS:

March 21
Over the weekend, we were able to confirm the presence of a third adult eagle near the nest, and we are almost certain that it is a breeding age female.  Typically, the presence of a new female means she is competing with the established pair of eagles for the current nest.  Nest competition is a common occurrence in areas with healthy eagle populations, meaning the total population of eagles near NCTC has likely increased in recent years. 

We have also confirmed multiple sightings of the male eagle who is part of the established breeding pair.  The male does not appear to be injured, and appears to be in good health.  The eaglet which hatched on March 17th has died and the remaining egg is not likely to hatch given that it is not being regularly incubated by the parents. 

We do have biologists on staff here at NCTC who have been offering their expert assessments of the situation. In addition, our land manager has been communicating with another raptor biologist based in our Chesapeake Bay field office.  There is general agreement among our biologists that if the new female eagle is successful in chasing off the current female, the new female will then need to recruit a male to join her.  However, it is likely too late in the nesting season for success in laying, incubating and hatching any new eggs.

You may wonder why there is competition over this nest - and there are several potential factors.  Eagles prefer to nest in the tops of large trees located near rivers, lakes, and other wetlands.  The NCTC nest is located very close to the Potomac River, which is a plentiful source of fish for nesting eagles to hunt.  In addition, eagle nests represent a considerable investment of effort to construct:  they can be up to 10 feet in diameter and weigh up to 2,000 lbs.  And finally, as mentioned above, nest competition frequently occurs in areas with a significant eagle population.
All I can add to this is to thank you for your concern, passion and understanding that intervention in this episode was not the right thing to do.  Things don't always work out the way we'd like in nature, but I think we would all agree that we have gotten a rare glimpse, these past few days, into the world of bald eagles that most people do not see or will ever know about.  The fact that we have competition such as this is speaks well for the recovery of the Bald Eagle, a species that was nearly extinct fifty years ago. 

New thread.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


New thread.

I have gotten inquiries from folks about getting more info on what's going on and also requests that the NCTC do something to assist the birds. 

I need to repeat that we all understand that this episode is unsettling to everyone, but it is one of the risks of having the cam in place--you get to see the wonderful things and the not so wonderful as well. 

Wild nature is not always a happy place...the best thing to do is not to interfere in any way.

FWS biologists have been aware of this episode since it began and I suspect there will be more information put out tomorrow on the official cam website.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Night

OK.  First off, I am on vacation.  I get very little time away, and am in hot water with my family because I have been checking email and blogs related to work and the cam too much today. 

From what I see on the blog comments, there's a lot of emotion going on with today's events, for which I do not have the facts.

If there was an intruder, that would not be an unusual event.  There is great competition now for nesting habitat in the region because the bald eagle has been very successful in recent years. This has happened in several places in the mid Atlantic over the past few years.

It would not be right to have any human intervention in matters concerning wild nature such as this.  It may not be pretty, but nature is not always gentle--it can be brutal.

Everyone please calm down. 

I understand why folks would be upset, but let's see how things work out.

Also, based on some of the things I have read in the comments,  I reserve the right to delete any comments on my blog that I consider inflammatory. 


St. Patrick's day thread.  Hatch.

Thanks to Paula for posting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011