Virginia.gov

Norfolk Eagle Cam

  1. 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.