Last week was First Fledge Week for the young bald eagle at Hays. Annette Devinney captured the action in pictures.
When was H7's first flight? No one knows for sure. Wendy (Eaglestreamer) told me the bird was still branching in the nest tree on Monday evening but wasn't there at all on Tuesday morning June 13. He/she(*) was found later on another tree so she(*) must have fledged ... but no one saw it.
Since then there have been daily opportunities to watch what looks like H7's first flight. Eagles are much larger and heavier than peregrines so it takes them longer to become agile at flapping and landing -- especially landing.
H7 is still learning that small branches can't support her weight. Sometimes she lands on a snag or a stable mound of leaves (above) but other landings are embarrassing as she slowly drops from tiny branch to tiny branch and disappears from sight. Click on the screenshot below to see a video of one such landing. Annette's husband Gerry, who took the video, says H7 wasn't hurt at all.
As we've learned with peregrines, the adults show us where their fledgling is. The eagle parents carry fish back and forth near the young bird and ostentatiously eat within H7's line of sight as if to say, "Come on up here and you'll get some."
And when H7 drops out of sight during an awkward landing the adults look below. Annette's caption is priceless! "I told you not to land on the flimsy ones."
Come on down to the Hays Bald Eagle Viewing Area on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to watch the action. Perhaps you'll see Annette, Gerry and Wendy there.
Click here for directions.
(*) p.s. We don't know yet if H7 is male or female but it's awkward to read "he/she" and "him/her" throughout the text so I've simplified by using the female pronoun. Bald eagles are like great battleships compared to peregrines as fighter jets. Since ships use the female pronoun I am using "she" for H7.