Bald Eagles at DEEC

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

For the last four days, we have seen several Bald Eagles here at the DuPont Environmental Education Center in Wilmington, including two adults and a 2-3 year old juvenile. The juvenile looks considerably different than the adults, and is primarily brown with white mottling and without the familiar white head and tail. The white on the head and tail does not begin to appear until the eagle’s 4th year of age, and by its 5th year it has developed full adult plumage.

Immature Bald Eagle by Jim White
Immature Bald Eagle. Photo by Jim White

These may be local breeding residents, as three Bald Eagle nests are found nearby, but there is no way to tell for sure.  One pair nests at Churchman’s Marsh, another near New Castle, and a third at Hoopes Reservoir. They could also be migrant winter residents, as many Bald Eagles travel southward from the northern U.S. during the winter searching for an open water source that is not frozen over. Some stop in our region.

Adult Bald Eagle by Jim White
Adult Bald Eagle. Photo by Jim White

Delaware’s nesting Bald Eagles are either close to egg laying, or they have already started incubating their eggs.  Personnel from the Delaware Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, will begin surveying for reproductively active nests next week.  From a small airplane, they fly over known nesting areas to search for incubating birds, and will keep track of the nests this way through May to see which ones end up successfully raising young.  In 2009, there were 36 successful Bald Eagle nests in Delaware.  If you think you’ve found an active Bald Eagle nest, Natural Heritage wants to hear from you.  You can call them at (302) 653-2880 to report your find.

The Bald Eagles at DEEC spend much of their time sitting in the trees growing on the dike along the south side of the marsh.When the eggs hatch and it is time to start feeding young, hopefully we’ll get to see more fishing activity around DEEC.  Pay us a visit and stand on one of the elevated balconies to search for the local Bald Eagles.

Bald eagle sitting in a tree on the edge of the marsh by John Harrod
Bald Eagle sitting in a tree on the edge of the marsh at the Dupont Environmental Education Center. Photo by John Harrod

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