Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12, 2014: Decorah Eaglet Update

Two of our little eaglets are just over one week old! What happened in their first week of life?
  • They doubled in size and grew taller. Little peaglets D18 and D19 should weigh about 1 pound now. D20 at 5 days old is about 6-8ozs. Based on what we've been able to find about bald eagle growth, D18 should be about 6+ inches tall, D19 is slightly smaller, and D20 is about 4 inches tall.
  • Their eyesight improved. While they can see at hatch, their vision improves in the first seven to ten days. Feeding helps them to develop depth and motion perception, focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team.
  • Their coordination improved. Our D’s are caught up in a sort of ‘virtuous cycle’ of growth. Eating helps develop visual acuity and strengthens bonds between parents and children. An eaglet’s rich protein diet fuels its incredible growth rate. As eaglets grow and the visual circuits in their brains develop, they see better and become more coordinated. As they become more coordinated, they get even better at eating and exploring, which fuels more growth and exploration.
  • They began social interaction. We saw dominance play, “cuddle puddles”, food begging, and adorable bonding between parents and their young.
  • They began exploring the world with their beaks. They tasted fish and other food, bonked, bit and nibbled siblings, poked Mom and Dad, and began picking at the nest. As we saw on Friday, they are ready and eager to explore the nest beyond the range of Mom and Dad’s confining feathers.
  • Their egg teeth wore away as they ate, nibbled, and explored.
Am I seeing thermal down already? I am! Thicker thermal down will aid eaglet exploration by assisting thermoregulation. Right now, our eaglets can’t thermoregulate properly. They need Mom and Dad to add heat, although they know instinctively how to shed it by panting.

In the week to come, we’ll be looking for more nest exploration, increased sibling interaction, and a change of feathers as thermal down replaces first or birth down. Their little eye masks will begin to fade, and their ear holes (auditory canals) will soon be covered in feathers and out of view.

[thanks to Sherri Elliott for the help!]

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