Eagles are a very territorial bird.  These birds will fight to the death to defend the nest, food source, and territory surrounding the nest.  But these birds are also very good parents and most will allow the young to stay in the territory for some time after they have learned to fly.  During this time the parents are teaching the young how to find food and defend themselves.   They will generally stay in the parents territory until late summer or really early fall.  But I say it depends how much grief the kids gave the parents when they were in the nest! 
Once the young have left for good they have to start a life of their own.  They will hang around other immature birds and continue to learn from each other, always picking up new techniques for hunting.  A big part of the mortality rate for these birds the first year of life is going to be the inexperience of not knowing what to do in situations and where to find food that first winter.  About 50% of the young hatched this year will not make it to the next summer. 
If these birds do make it to the next spring and they decided to come back home, they will not   be welcomed back by the parents.  The parents will actually run them right out of their territory.  Raising a new set of chicks is work enough for the parents, they don’t need to worry about taking care of the ones that already can fly and find food.  So until the immature eagles have turned to the adult age of five or six they will just be wandering around just exploring and checking out where the best place to live is.  I like to compare them to college students; they are just getting the reins and will be looking to hopefully settle down in a few years.


Bridget Befort

Program Specialist

National Eagle Center