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Watching Yukon eaglets grow, from Elmwood

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Earlier this spring, in Whitehorse, Yukon, an eagles’ nest began breaking up because the birds’ usual tree was falling apart. So the Yukon Electrical Company built a new nest for the eagles. They added a camera to the next along Whitehorse’s Millennium Trail, so that birds could be watched, and we’ve been watching since.

The nest was made using a long sturdy pole (as tall as a large tree) with a metal, bowl-shaped platform on top, covered with many twigs, bits of grass, leaves, etc. It proved to be just the invitation two eagles needed. They hatched three eggs, brooded over the babies and then began to look for food for them. Many people from all over the country watched them here.

Papa Eagle brought food and then rarely stayed to see if the babes would eat. Mama would pick up a small piece after loosening it from the larger piece, and then try to pop it into the eaglet’s mouth. This process took a lot of time; no wonder Papa Eagle did not stay around to watch.

The eaglets had quite a chore grabbing food on their own and made quite a mess with the fish pieces,but they seemed to take turns eating. At first the kiddies were just little masses of greyish flesh. Two of them grew faster, while one was a bit sluggish. Eventually they grew a few white feathers on their heads, but not enough so that they actually looked liked eagles.

The littlest guy suddenly asserted himself. When a fish was brought into the nest, he took ownership, eating his fill,and then sitting on the rest. No one else could have anything! Papa and Mama weren’t around to arbitrate and I think he got away with keeping the food to himself. (I assume it was a "he".)

When the birds were able to waddle a little bit, they quickly learned to eliminate waste, away from their living spaces —careful to aim their bums directly over the edge of their nest. Quite a bit faster than human babies learn that skill!

As of today the eaglets are still there, and we check them every day on our computer. Their wing span at this tender age is already a metre.

Bertha Klassen is a community correspondent for Elmwood.

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