Now that the young eagles have fledged, or left the nest, they have a lot to learn. They’re still staying close to the nest, but no longer using the nest itself. Rather, they spend their time on the branches or trees nearby. They need to stay close to home while they work on the flying skills. Just because you have a seven foot wingspan, doesn’t mean you can fly! They need to gain critical flight skills, and build up some muscles these first weeks out of the nest.
They also need to learn how to hunt and fish for themselves. For the first three months of life, while they’re in the nest, Mom and Dad had been providing all their food. Now that they are out of the nest, they are expected to provide for themselves. Of course, Mom and Dad want them to succeed, so they will offer some tips – where to look for food and how to catch and kill they prey. And, if the youngsters come up empty, Mom and Dad are still willing to help out for a while. (Another good reason, not to go too far from home!)
In general, these youngsters are spending a lot more energy than an older, more skilled eagle flying and finding food. These hot and stormy days and nights can be hard on these already vulnerable birds. Even adult eagles are stressed by the heat. It’s much easier for eagles – who have their own built-in down coats – to withstand cold temperatures, than steamy heat. It’s hard on anybody, and eagles are no exception. In hot weather, eagles tend to eat less – they don’t need the calories to keep warm. But, young eagles still need those calories to build up their muscle mass for flying. They can afford to miss too many meals.
Rough weather takes its toll on lots of animals. Think about spending the night perched in a tree during a hail storm? It’s rough out there. These first few weeks out of th4e nest can be a real challenge for young eagles, and one of the reasons that about 50% of young eagles don’t make it through their first year.