Our nest is located on the eastern side of the island, very near Romerly Marsh on The Landings Club’s Palmetto golf course..(See map on community page.) Our eagles have great fishing grounds close by. The nest was first observed in 2012, although the Georgia Department of Natural Resources does not have any documentation that eggs were laid that year. In 2013, the pair successfully fledged two eaglets and in 2014 one eaglet managed to fly from the nest. There are two other active nests on Skidaway Island, but they are not as accessible, and there are 25 or 26 nests in Chatham County.
There are many interesting websites with information about bald eagles, including their history in the U.S. and their successful recovery, coming off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened in 2007.
- Their eyes are the same size as ours with 10x the power.
- They can fly to 10,000 feet and in level flight reach speeds of 30 to 35 mph.
- The shrill, high-pitched sounds they make, which we hear transmitted from a microphone mounted in the tree, is produced by a bone structure in the throat called a syrinx, not a voice box.
Nests – Bald eagles build their nests in large trees near rivers, large lakes or coasts. A typical nest is about 5 feet in diameter and built of large sticks and excrement. Eagles often use the same nest year after year. Over the years, some nests become enormous, spanning 9 feet in diameter and weighing 2 tons.
Incubation and hatching – The mating season in coastal Georgia may last from September through November. Copulation normally takes place on a large branch near the nest or on the ground. Five days after copulation the female lays the first of possibly 3 eggs. Parenting duties are shared by both male and female during the 35 days of incubation, but it is the female who spends most of her time on the nest. Trading places on the nest can be a cumbersome and tense time.
The growth of eaglets – The young birds grow rapidly, adding one pound every four or five days. At six weeks the eaglets are very nearly as large as their parents. An eaglet can take its first flight some 10 to 13 weeks after hatching. The full nesting cycle lasts about 20 weeks and during this entire period the adult eagles remain within one to two miles of the nest and continue to feed the young eaglets. The first year of life can be stressful for a fledgling, especially in areas where food is scarce in the winter. Juvenile bald eagles are a mixture of brown and white. They reach full maturity in 4 to 5 years at which time they take on the beauty of the adult eagle and become sexually active.
Adult eagles – Adult eagles weigh between 10 and 14 pounds and their wingspan ranges from 72 to 90 inches. The female bald eagle is 35 to 37 inches in length, slightly larger than the male. Eagles can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet and can achieve speeds of about 30 to 35 mph during level flight. Their diet consists of fish, small mammals and some carrion. The eagle’s eyesight is nearly four times that of a human with perfect vision. An eagle can live to 30 plus years but the average is 15 to 20 years.