There are two active nests in Hinsdale. Both are along the Connecticut River. This one is
a nest Audubon refers to as the Wantastiquet nest, and is one of my favorites. The story goes that this pair had built a nest that was quite visible from the trail. The nest was taken over by a pair of ospreys. (Yes, it happens). They rebuilt their nest a little closer to Brattleboro, further down the river. I was able to find the nest and observe the bald eagles in it last year. I have been able to identify both eagles. The male is B over O, hatched in 2008, from Massachusetts . The female is 9 over K, hatched in 2007, from Connecticut. They say that bald eagles will make their home within 250 miles of the place they were hatched. They had one eaglet last year that I was able to photograph.
I was back out to the nest about 2 weeks ago in my kayak. I saw the male first, in a tree near the nest. I was able to see the nest itself without getting to close, as I don’t want to disturb them. I was able to see the female sitting in the nest. You can just make out the white on her head. It’s a good sign. I’ll go back again soon to check on them.
May 2, 2019
What a miserable drizzly gray day. I’m on a mission though. I was told by another observer that there are 2 eaglets in this nest now. It’s very early in the season, so the eaglets must still be very small and hard to see. My curiosity gets the best of me, and even in this weather, I decide to walk the mile out to the nest. I know last year I wasn’t able to see the eaglets until the leaves came out on the trees. It’s early, so my hopes are not high. I got down to the nest and saw the mama right away (Banded 9 over k). I stayed for about 40 minutes, but didn’t see any eaglets. I’m thinking if I go back in about 2 weeks or so, I should have a better view. Mama didn’t even look my way, which is very good. The sound of the camera must not bother her. She didn’t seem bothered by it last year either. I saw a beaver swimming and some swallows while I was there. I finally gave up and walked the mile back to my car. It was great to see her, and I really look forward to seeing the eaglets from this pair this year.
May 8, 2019
The weather was nice today…almost 70, but it’s a little too windy to kayak. I decide to
walk out to the nest. It’s just about a 2 mile round trip. I’m told there is at least one eaglet here now, but they’re so small this time of year that they are very difficult to see, especially when they are deep inside the nest. The female (banded bald eagle 9 over k) was sitting in the nest when I arrived. A few minutes later she flew off and I could see a tiny fuzzy gray and black head. I can confirm there is at least one eaglet in this nest this year. The little head
disappeared a moment after mom flew off. I stayed for almost an hour after that. Mom flew to a branch above the nest in the same tree, and was still in that position when I left. Dad was no where to be found today. In another week or so the eaglet(s) will be much easier to see. Not a great time of day to take photos as the sun was directly facing me, but this was the only time I was able to go (and the one day it isn’t raining!). I was also luck that the leaves on the branches didn’t fill in yet. I still had a decent view. I’m always hoping for great photos, but it was enough just to see that little head. It was a good day.
May 25, 2019
I haven’t been all the way out to the nest in the kayak since the nesting season began. It’s easy enough to walk to, and I’m unable to see the eaglets from the kayak until they’re a bit older. Today was perfect though. No wind, and warm sunny skies. It takes me almost an hour to paddle out to the nest. When I get there mom is huddled over the eaglet (there is one in this nest this year). I had to wait about an hour for them to move around, but it was absolutely worth it. When they start to stir, it is because the eaglet is hungry. I was able to watch mom rip off some food for the eaglet. This doesn’t look like fish to me, but I can’t quite
tell what it is (what it used to be!). It is sizable though. I can actually see mom feed the eaglet. At one point they get into a tug of war over a piece of food. I would think this is training for the eaglet. Mom feeds the eaglet for a while and then finishes, but the eaglet wasn’t very happy about that. He/she must have still been hungry because the next thing I see is the eaglet biting the mom’s neck (kind of hard!). Mom had enough of that and eventually makes her way to the branch above the nest. I leave them alone at that point. That was the closest I have been to a bald eagle feeding its young. The eaglet is quite large. I would say around the 10 week mark. Another 2-3 weeks and it should start to fly/practice flying. Usually at the age of 12 weeks the eaglet will fledge and leaves the nest, but it will hang around for sometimes up to a month trying to get food from the adults. Today was really wonderful.
I went to visit the aggressive eaglet and family in Hinsdale, off the Connecticut River. I went in with the kayak, so it took about an hour to get over to the nest. I didn’t see either adult on the way over, so I was expecting to see them at the nest site. I finally made it over, but still no adults. Timing is everything. I didn’t stay long, but if I had, I’m sure one of them would have stopped by at some point. What I did see was the eaglet, alone on a branch in the same tree as the nest. So although I didn’t see much this visit, I know we have moved from eaglet to fledgling. The juvenile will practice its fishing and flying skills while still having the comfort of mom and dad for a few more weeks. He/she will face this winter alone though. It was a warm day and the fledgling sat in the same position for the duration of my visit. It’s one of my favorite nests. I’m hoping to get back there soon and see the adults, along with a few last glimpses of the fledgling. The nesting season is coming to an end. It’s always bittersweet for me.
Quite a bit has happened here since last season, the most tragic of which is that the male in this nest, Orange band B/O, was hit by a car and died. The Female, black band 9/k, already had two chicks in the nest when this happened. I know this is part of the circle of life, but it saddened me nevertheless.
That happened in April. I was recently told that another male has joined 9/k in the nest so I took a ride out in the kayak. I saw one of the two chicks and I saw 9/k. I was there about an hour but didn’t see another adult. I saw 9/k fish in the river. She caught a small fish and ate it all by herself. I’m hoping to get out there again soon.
November 8, 2020
I have some updating to do to this blog. It’s been the summer of Covid 19 and things have been different this year. With that being said…I took the kayak out to the nest today. I wasn’t expecting to see any of the eagles there. They don’t normally spend a lot of time at the nest once the yearly juveniles are out on their own. They will not sleep in the nest until next spring when they have more young.
Usually I can get to a point in the river where I can see the nest from a distance. I was so happy to be able to get out in the kayak in November, that I wasn’t paying close attention to that until I got closer. I couldn’t see the nest. The closer I got the more worried I became. I got to a certain point in the river where I usually take photos. I looked up and my heart sank. The nest fell. Not one stick is left. The first photo is from last January and the one after is from today…
I’m very curious to see what happens. Normally the pair would rebuild within a 3 mile radius of the nest, but I have seen exceptions to that rule. I have been watching this nest for years. It’s easily accessible and I will miss it dearly if they do not rebuild here. The waiting will be the worst part. I won’t know until early spring whether or not they will rebuild here. It also brings up questions in my head, as always. Are the eagles upset the nest fell? What will be the driving logic that has them choose the new location? The male is new to the nest this year. Would something like this make him leave? Would he want to rebuild in an the area he came from? I hope to find some of the answers to these but it will have to wait several months until it is time for them to start building a new nest. Talk about a cliff-hanger!
March 11, 2021
It was a year ago that the country shut down due to Covid-19. It was a hard year to keep up with the blogs. In November of 2020 I noticed the nest was gone (last blog entry of 2020). I went out to Hinsdale today and saw something really interesting!
When I started viewing this nest, I could see another established nest closer than the one they use. I was told years ago that this other nest used to be the bald eagle’s nest and was taken over by a pair of ospreys a few years before. For the last 3 years I have seen ospreys in that other nest. In 2018 there was one offspring. The ospreys leave in the fall to fly south. This gives the bald eagles a larger safe range to live for the winter.
I was wondering what the pair of eagles would do about the nest site. I was about to walk out to it (about a mile or so one way) when I saw this…
This is female 9/k in a nesting position in the old nest. This is the nest the ospreys occupied for the last three years. The drama continues! Ospreys make their way back to Vermont anytime between now and April. What will happen when they come back? Will they kick the bald eagles out of the nest again?
If the weather was just a bit better I would have walked out to the nest site that fell down last year. It is possible that they rebuilt that nest as well. I have to say though, judging from her posture, it certainly looks like 9/k is nesting in the ospreys’ nest right now. In about 2-3 months the rulers of that nest will be clear. I’m not sure how the ospreys will react to the eagles taking over their nest site.
I did see the male as well. This is the male that was new to the nest last year. The previous mate of 9/k, B/0, was hit by a car last year and died while there were eaglets in the nest. This new male came in and helped raise last year’s eaglets. He is not banded.
Hopefully within another month or so I’ll be able to get into the water with the kayak. It makes observations much easier. If 9/k is truly nesting right now, her eaglets would be due to hatch in roughly a month. I’m excited to see how many chicks they have this year. Until next time…
April 8, 2021
So it seems like it’s official. They are definitely nesting in their old nest. The new male (joined 9/k last spring) was standing guard when I got there in the kayak today. This pair is so used to seeing humans that they didn’t even look over my way when I paddled over towards the nest.
The nest seems so small compared to the one they occupied last year. I kept thinking, if she has two eaglets this year, how will they all fit in there? It does look like sticks are being added, so they are renovating as they go it seems.
I did see this osprey when I first arrived. It was eating something and was a good distance from the nest in a tree I am not used to seeing them in. Maybe there will be no drama with the nest after all. I do wonder though, where will the osprey pair that occupies this nest last year go this year? Time will tell.
It was a quiet day. It was also pretty warm. Both eagles were panting. When I swung around, about an hour later, the male was gone and 9/k was in the nest. I’m so grateful I was able to get out there today. We should be expecting eaglets the week of April 20th, if I calculated correctly. I can’t wait!
So, it’s that time of year again…eaglet season! I have been out to the nest several times over the last few weeks in the kayak, and we indeed have one eaglet in the new nest this year! This nest is not wide, but it’s very deep. It took a bit longer to see the chick because of that.
I was thinking for a while as I watch them. This is kind of special. Last year, after B/O died, 9/K already had two chicks in the nest. Those were her eaglets with B/O. The new, unbanded male helped raise another bald eagle’s chicks last year. This year is different. This is the first year 9/K and the new male have created their own eaglet. This is the first year they are raising their own eaglet together.
They are being harassed by a few grackles and red-winged blackbirds in the new nest. This behavior is called “Mobbing”. I have also seen ospreys flying over the nest as well but that hasn’t deterred the eagles from staying in this nest. This nest is in a much busier section of the CT River than the last one. They are so used to seeing people that they just ignore us now for the most part.
The photo above is a decent capture of the ID on her leg band. You can see the “9/K” on the black band clearly. She was hatched in 2007, which makes this her 14th year. This means she has been hatching and raising chicks for almost 10 years now.
The eaglet is thriving and is just about 5 weeks old at this point. We have roughly 7 weeks before it fledges and flies out of the nest on its own. I’m really looking forward to watching this special eaglet grow during the rest of this summer. All is well in Hinsdale right now.