Second-Week Milestones: An Illustrated Book!

(More than) an eaglet a day: an illustrated book of DN17 and DN18’s second week of life! Click through the photos to see and read about their milestones and behaviors. Thanks to our camera operators, our moderators, and STLbf on our forum for photos, information, and text!

April 4, 2024: Grey thermal down tracts are peeking out between feathery white natal tufts, the eaglets are more alert and aware of their surroundings, and they have enough strength, balance, and coordination to begin sitting up.

April 5, 2024: That might be the biggest cropzilla I’ve ever seen! The eaglets are rapidly gaining weight, growing feet and beaks, and filling out. They’ve mastered sitting up and their talons – look at DN17 on the right – are beginning to turn black.

Eaglets hatch with clear talons. As they grow, their talons darken. Melanin not only produces colors ranging from dark black to reddish brown and pale yellow, it also makes talons (and feathers) stronger, stiffer, and more resistant to breaking and wear.

April 6, 2024: Day 12 and 13
April 6, 2024: Day 12 and 13

April 6, 2024: Morning brings bigger, grayer eaglets! Their necks are like periscopes, their tiny flip flappers suddenly look like wings, and they are wingercizing and warbling more. Wings, wings, what marvelous things! Happy growing!

April 7, 2024: Day 13 and 14. It’s a chilly wet day, but the eaglets can thermoregulate enough to be left uncovered for longer periods of time. Mombrella stepped in when things got a little too wet! 

April 8, 2024: Day 14 and 15. The eaglets are gulping down inedible bits like scales and fur as they gobble down gigantic bites. We’re seeing crop drops: is a pellet on the way? DN18 almost stood on its feet today and both eagles are beginning to wander the nest.

Foot pads, middle toes, and legs/tarsi are growing like crazy! Those large footpads, aka clown clompers, will help steady and balance them as they begin taking their first uncertain steps.

April 9, 2024: Day 15 and 16. DN17 cast a pellet and eaglet independence is increasing! Both eaglets are using their feet more as they waddle out of the center of the nest and find new places to explore and nap.

Sadly, we didn’t get the pellet on video, especially since Mr. North picked it up and DN18 tried to swallow it!

April 10, 2024: Day 16 and 17. Wait, what happened to our fluffy white bobbleheads? They’ve more than doubled in size, exchanged baby white onesies for grey thermal down pajamas, started sitting up tall and shuffling around the nest, and realized they have wings! Fortunately, Mr. North and DNF could keep a whole fleet of flying fishwagons full! Despite their rapid growth, even the ever-hungry eaglets sometimes seem disinterested in food.

Bald eagle development is very rapid in the first month of life, slows during the second, and levels off during the third. After 20 to 30 days, the weights of the sexes diverge as females gain weight faster than males. But males develop their plumage faster. Watch and listen to spot the differences. Do we have two males, two females, one of either sex, or two ‘tweeners’? It can be difficult to tell the difference!