Norfolk Eagle Cam

  1. Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Updated Statement

    Following the eagle airplane strikes last April at Norfolk International Airport, bald eagles were recognized as a serious strike hazard to aviation operations at the Airport.  This conclusion was arrived at by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) program, which is responsible for resolving wildlife hazards to aviation, thus enhancing public safety.  The USDA-WS was already in the process of conducting an ongoing comprehensive Wildlife Hazard Assessment at the request of the Airport and included these strikes as part of its overall evaluation.   Individuals interested in learning more about the Wildlife Hazard Assessment, resulting Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, and/or bird/aircraft strike hazards should contact the USDA-WS office at 804-739-7739.

    The final assessment, prepared by the USDA-WS, identified the eagle nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden as a threat to human safety, due to proximity of the nests and the history of airplane strikes involving breeding eagles from this territory.   It recommended that the Airport work with the Garden and appropriate regulatory agencies to prevent eagles from nesting near the Airport.  Over the past eight months, a variety of management options have been considered by federal wildlife and airport safety experts, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and the Airport.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency responsible for the management of bald eagles, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the state agency responsible for the management of wildlife in the Commonwealth, have reviewed the information collected by the USDA-WS and have participated in discussions held with the Airport Authority, Norfolk Botanical Garden, USDA-WS, and the Federal Aviation Administration.  We concur with the findings resulting from the Wildlife Hazard Assessment and are working with the principal partners to implement a solution that protects public safety and the eagles.

    As the state’s wildlife regulatory and permitting entity, the DGIF may have a role in permitting whatever actions are taken at the Garden.  However, the DGIF does NOT have a role in implementing on-the-ground actions that may be taken at the Garden or at the Airport.  We were surprised about the decision to go live with the camera on January 24, although we had advised the Garden previously that we would have to step back from the Eagle Cam partnership.  It is important to us avoid any conflict of interest. 

    We have been proud to help bring this educational opportunity to the public for so many years and look forward to working with our partners on future endeavors.

  2. Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    January 24, 2012

    Following the eagle airplane strikes last April at Norfolk International Airport, bald eagles were recognized as a serious strike hazard as part of an ongoing Wildlife Hazard Assessment being performed by USDA Wildlife Services at the request of the Airport.   Due to the proximity of the eagle nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the history of airplane strikes involving breeding eagles from this territory the nest was identified as a threat to both human safety and the safety of the bald eagles.  A variety of management options are currently being considered by federal wildlife and airport safety experts.  As a wildlife regulatory and permitting entity, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries must remove itself from the Eagle Cam partnership to avoid any conflict of interest. We have been proud to help bring this educational opportunity to the public for so many years and look forward to working with our partners on future endeavors.

  3. Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Eagle Found at Norfolk Botanical Garden

    Bald Eagle pair at Norfolk Botanical Garden on January 8

    Since the loss of his mate in April of this past year, the male bald eagle from the Norfolk Botanical Garden remained in the area and was regularly seen by visitors.  In late September he was seen with a new adult female.  This bird was identified as a five-year-old based on some light brown spotting on her white head and tail.  This pair was seen spending time together in the nest tree and began adding sticks and refurbishing the nest. 

    As the breeding season approached the pair were making regular visits to the nest in the mornings and evenings and had begun lining the nest with pine-straw and dried grasses. On the morning of January 6th a visitor to the Norfolk Botanical Garden found a dead adult bald eagle.  Staff at the Garden notified DGIF and the remains were collected by DGIF staff. There was no apparent cause of death and this bird was identified as a five-year-old female based on plumage and measurements. 

    Staff at the Garden observed the nest closely over the weekend and DGIF, NBG and CCB personnel kept a watch on the camera. A second adult perched near the nest on Friday and on Sunday evening a female eagle joined the male in the nest.  On Monday, the first breeding of the season was noted on camera.

    This has raised the question as to whether or not the female eagle currently being seen is the same bird that has been seen throughout the fall.  The obvious pair bond between the two would seem to indicate familiarity with each other. However at this point in the breeding season pair bonds can form quickly as hormonal changes drive the urgent need to reproduce.  There is no definitive answer and at this point we can only speculate.. 

    In either case this episode is indicative of the recovery of bald eagles, to the point where there are ”excess breeders” birds of reproductive age that have not secured their own territory.  Despite the challenges seen by the individual birds at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, the population of bald eagles is thriving in Virginia.  

    The remains of the eagle collected on Jan. 6th have been forwarded to pathology experts at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to learn as much as possible about the bird’s cause of death. The perliminary results should be known within a few weeks.

  4. Friday, July 29, 2011

    Release Video and NX update

    Check out this video from the release on the VDGIF website.  There are also photos and a description of the event.

    Word from The Wildlife Center of Virginia is that NX is doing well.  She’s exercising regularly and not showing any signs that the transmitter unit is causing her any discomfort.  We’ll look forward to her release sometime in the near future.  For continuing updates on NX check out The Wildlife Center of Virginia’s website.  To see the webcam in NX’s flight pen click here.

    Thanks to our Eagle Cam partners WVEC and the Norfolk Botanical Garden!

  5. Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Norfolk Eaglet Update

    The eaglets transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) on April 27th continue to receive excellent care from the staff there.  Regular updates as to the chicks’ progress are posted at  Of note is the fact that the youngest chick (the male banded with NV) has gained 1 kg (2.2 pounds) since last Friday.

    For those who wish to continue to follow the progress of these young eagles - WVEC and WCV worked hard to get a webcam installed and functional.  The cam is up and provides a great view of the eaglets in their enclosure at WCV.  The cam is at

  6. Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Eagle Cam Chicks at Norfolk Botanical Garden Get Bands

    VDGIF video captures month-old bald eagle chicks being removed from their 80-foot-high perch and lowered to the ground, where biologists from the Center for Conservation Biology attached bands to their legs, and assessed their overall health before returning them safely to the nest. This video was shot just 5 days before the eaglets’ mother was struck and killed by an airplane at the Norfolk International Airport, which is adjacent to the Gardens and the nest site. The adult male eagle of the nest—seen in this video in the skies above the nest—continued to feed the chicks, but biologists say he would be unable to provide enough food for all three as they continue to grow. After considering all options, wildlife experts made the decision to remove the eaglets from the nest and place them at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, where they will be cared for until they are old enough to be released into the wild later this summer.

  7. Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Eaglets Being Removed From Nest

    The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has confirmed that the female of the eagle pair nesting at Norfolk Botanical Garden was killed by an airplane strike yesterday morning. VDGIF wildlife biologists, acting on concerns that the adult male will not be able to provide sufficient food for the three five-week-old eaglets, determined that the birds should be removed from the nest. While the male may be able to meet the needs of the chicks in the near term, the amount of food they will require as they grow will increase exponentially, likely exceeding the hunting capacity of even the most capable provider.
    A number of options were considered as the VDGIF assessed the situation, including no intervention, providing supplemental food for the chicks, or separating them for placement in the nests of other eagles. Ultimately, the biologists and agency eagle expert determined that the most appropriate response would be to remove the eaglets and transport them to The Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). There the birds can be reared in specialized facilities and cared for by trained, permitted eagle rehabilitators until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.

    According to VDGIF Biologist Stephen Living, “The agency recognizes that there is a very high degree of public investment in these birds.  Thousands of people worldwide have watched these eagles over the years and followed their progress.”

    Living continued, “Without intervention, it is all but certain that one or more of these eaglets would not survive the next three months.  Pulling the birds and sending them to the Wildlife Center gives them their best chance.  The birds are already old enough to know that they are eagles and to recognize their siblings.  Maintaining them as a family unit and releasing them together when they are ready to go will certainly improve their survival potential.”
    Nuckols Tree Care Service is assisting with the removal of the eaglets from the nest. They had participated in the banding of the eaglets that took place on April 21 and have been long-time supporters of the Eagle Cam project at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
    At WCV the eaglets’ health will be evaluated and monitored closely throughout their treatment.  They will be placed in an artificial nest that has been constructed in the Center’s 200-foot eagle flight cage.  Other adult Bald Eagle patients may also be in this enclosure.  While the chicks will be separated by a physical barrier from direct contact with other eagles, the eaglets will be able to see other eagles flying and feeding.  As they begin to fledge, the barrier will be removed and the young eagles will have full access to the long enclosure, to build their wing strength and to learn to fly. The goal would be to get the young eagles ready for release back into the wild this summer.
    In 2008, an eaglet was removed from NBG because it had a growth on its beak caused by avian pox. That bird - known as Buddy - is not able to be released back into the wild and still resides at the Wildlife Center and serves as an education bird.

    According to Don Buma, Executive Director of Norfolk Botanical Garden, “The eagles have put Norfolk Botanical Garden on the map. They have increased awareness and developed an appreciation of nature for millions of school children and Eagle Cam viewers from around the world.”


  8. Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Female Eagle Struck by Plane

    This morning an adult bald eagle was struck and killed by an incoming airplane at Norfolk International Airport.  It is believed that this bird was the female of the nesting pair from Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG). The strike occurred sometime between 8:30 and 8:50 a.m. These eagles were well known through the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Norfolk Botanical Garden, and WVEC, and have been at NBG since 2003.

    According to Stephen Living, VDGIF biologist, and Reese Lukei, a research associate with the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB), “We are fairly certain that this is the Norfolk Botanical Garden female eagle due to her physical characteristics, size and the fact that she has not been seen at the nest since the strike.”

    This year the pair of eagles has produced three chicks at that nest site. Biologists with the VDGIF, CCB, and the staff at NBG will continue to monitor the nest and are working to ensure the health of the eaglets.


  9. Thursday, April 21, 2011


    After spending the afternoon resting following their banding (check the CCB blog for details), the young birds got enjoy supper brought in by the female.

  10. Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Growing Up

    The three young eaglets have certainly changed from the tiny fluffy white chicks that hatched over a month ago.

    The chicks are well on their way to growing into their juvenile plumage, with a coat of brown feathers that they will have when they leave the nest.  In this photo we can see the chicks lined up from youngest to oldest (the youngest chick on the left and the eldest on the right).  You can see that the youngest chick’s back is still largely covered by down and the eldest is well covered by brown feathers.