Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Another successful year for bald eagles
August 4, 2007
Steve Grinley

     Many customers have commented on the young birds that have fledged in their backyards. I’ve heard stories about young chickadees and nuthatches, bluebirds and robins. Jen in Amesbury commented how she enjoys the young blue jay being so noisy and bossing all the other yard birds. Several folks have young red-bellied woodpeckers, orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks visiting their feeders. Phil in Essex has a young hummingbird visiting regularly. Many young birds will still call or flutter their wings to try to get the parent birds to continue to feed them. It is fun to watch the parents try to ignore the youngsters or to try to encourage them to feed on their own.

     A couple of people have told me about large hawks screaming in their yards. In fact, I’ve heard one in the trees behind my house recently. Young red-tailed hawks will call to remind their parents that it is time for food, even though the parent birds think the young hawk should be hunting his own food by now. Many birds try to mooch off their parents as long as they can get away with it. It’s just like real life, I guess.

     But there is no luckier person I know than Bob Pierce of West Newbury. He has had a very special fledgling in his backyard that he has been keeping an eye on for several months now. Bob is the proud “grandparent” of another bald eagle! Two years ago, a pair of young eagles, dubbed Merri and Mack, were fledged from the nest atop a giant pine behind Bob’s house. After an unsuccessful try across the river last year due to the heavy spring rains, the same pair of bald eagles came back to this nest and raised one eaglet this year. Bob again monitored the progress of the nesting this year. The state Fish and Wildlife banded the young eagle a couple of months ago.

     This past Wednesday, Aug. 1, Bob sent out the following notice to announce the successful fledging of another eagle to the Merrimack River: “August 1st. Eagle took its first flight this AM! Unfortunately did not see it, but I did see it fly later in day.

     “Noticed that eagle was not in nest this morning. Subsequently, I heard and then saw it in one of the front pine trees. I went to get my binoculars, and upon my return it had flown back to the nest. I missed its next flight away from the nest, as I again saw it in the front pine trees. It must have then flown toward the river, as I later saw it flying in from the river side & landing in one of the front yard pines. This time it was followed very closely by one of the adults, which flew directly to the nest. The baby eagle stayed in the front pine for about 10 minutes, and was screaming the whole time. It then leapt from the tree and flew to the nest. Its flight was magnificent, but its landing was less so. Actually it was more of a crash than a landing, as it dislodged the adult from its perch over the nest.

     “I expect the baby to stay close to the nest for a couple of days, but it should soon be venturing over the river for longer and longer flights. If you see an immature eagle with a green band on its right talon and an orange band on its left talon, then that is the 2007 West Newbury eagle.”

     So keep an eye out for this newest member of the family of eagles that call the Merrimack River home. And, hopefully, there will be at least one more bird to entertain us at this winter’s Eagle Festival!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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