Where’s Jack?

Where's Jack? | Juvenile Eagle 4-23-2012 8:15am

GG thinks that instead of playing, Where’s Waldo? Fawnskin Folks should play, Where’s Jack?

This could make things a bit more interesting and keep everyone in the loop of what is happening in the eagle world.

In the meantime, I thought I’d amaze you with my newly acquired knowledge and answer some questions that I’ve been getting.

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Believe it or not, the scientific name means white-headed sea eagle and is derived from the Greek words halos (sea) and aetos (eagle), leukos (white) and kephalus (head). In addition, the Middle English word balled, means shining white–which is where we get “Bald.”

Other names for this eagle? American Eagle, White-headed Eagle, and American Fish Eagle…but around here we call ’em OUR eagles or Fawnskin Fish Eagles. (Okay, okay–YES, I made that up but you know how I am!)

Now, for the more serious slant.

GG has been a busy girl watching all the birds lately. Bald eagle Jack left the nest and is on the way to learning to hunt and live on his own.

Although I wasn’t wringing my hands over this, the estimates are pretty dismal since somewhere around 40% of the juvenile bald eagles that make it to fledge do not survive their first flight.


Other locals saw Jack flapping around on the ground but I had been watching him practice getting air and building up his wing muscles all week. So, I scanned the ridgeline and trees until I found him up in the tree tops and then was fortunate to see him glide off.

If an eagle can look determined, Jack had “the look” on this flight and I was relieved to see find him without a problem on Monday–mainly because I caught one adult on the way to his location to feed him.

A lot of people have been asking questions about what will happen now. So…

After eagles have let the nest, they stick around for up to 12 weeks as they learn to hunt. This happens through observation and trial & error.

In the meantime, Jack won’t be going far since his primary feathers and his muscles need to continue to strengthen. The eagle family will remain close to the site for the time being but are not likely to be found back at the nest.

Quite frankly, I’d think they are are glad to be away from it! Probably needs some housecleaning by this time–and the addition of fresh sticks.

In case you don’t know, one of the adults was seen bringing new nesting material last week while Jack was still in the nest.

Bald Eagle Chick | Rich Barns

Since Jack has a V shape on his chest, it will be easy to identify him for a time. Adult coloring doesn’t happen for a while (4-5 years). Also, his dark eye color will lighten over time in conjuction with the head and tail feathers.

One of the reasons he looks bigger than the adults is due to his current coloration and, according to one source, because he has more fluffy feathers for the moment.

A benefit of this coloration is that it is also thought to help reduce adult eagle territorial aggression toward immature eagles.

Since his parents will use the nest over and over again, it will be interesting to see where Jack ends up taking full-time residence–likely to happen toward the middle to end of the summer as he gains more independence.

Now, many locals insist that some of the eagles on the east end of the valley are bald eagle juveniles but they can be easily confused with golden eagles–which are also in this region.

Differences are that immature bald eagles have more mottling in their coloration while golden eagles is more solid. Bald eagle beaks are larger too but behaviorally, the bald eagles prefer treed habitat near water while golden eagles tend to frequent open terrain.

A handsome Fawnskin guy showed me some stunning bald eagle pictures he took at the Big Bear airport so no telling what you might see around the valley!

If you want to see some examples, one of the bird publishers I know has a forum dedicated to topics such as these and you can learn more about the Immature Bald Eagles versus Immature Golden Eagles.

Now, if you are an wild eagle junkie like I seem to have become, you can watch chicks develop on the nest cams:

BTW It is my birthday today, so I wrote this in advance and will be out kickin’ up my heals. Feel free to break out in song on the street and to shower me with gifts…I’ll be back on Thursday.

Where's Jack" | GG Knows!

Above: Location of Jack early Monday. This is near the top of the ridge to the left of the nest site, left of the big dead tree that leans to the right.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 and is filed under Birding, Mountain Lake Resort, Mountain Wildlife.

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