Incubation time, be careful!


Have you seen the male and female make the switch for incubation duty?

While the female eagle does most of the incubating, both eagles play a part.

Why does the female spend more time at the nest? For one thing, she’s larger and thus better able to defend the nest and eggs. Eagle eggs are vulnerable to predation from other birds and especially raccoons. Raccoons can climb up the tree and make an easy snack of unattended eggs. Some researchers think predation by raccoons may be a leading cause of nest failure (meaning failure to produce young) for bald eagles.  Although not as common as Raccoon's, Gray Fox are also very adept at climbing trees and will occasionaly predate on eggs and young eagles.  The more commonly seen Red Fox is not a tree climber.

When the female is ready for a break, she will often call for the male. She makes it very clear she’s ready for a break. If you’ve ever heard an eagle scream, you know how fast that male comes back! If he’s lucky, he’s come back with food. Expecting eagle mothers can be pretty demanding.

When male and female are in the nest making a switch or just standing up to change positions over the eggs, they are VERY careful around the eggs. They will even ball up their talons and walk on fists so they don’t risk puncturing one of the precious eggs. They will also gently turn the eggs periodically using their beaks. It’s amazing to see how gently these large predators can be.