East Texas Naturalist Blog

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Eaglet Update

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Saturday, April 9, we hurried out right before dark to check on the eaglets.  The day before had been really windy and we'd taken some friends out to check, but the chicks stayed mostly hunkered down, with one parent watching closely from a nearby tree.  Eventually, one eaglet sat up, but untill the very end of the short time that we watched, the other didn't appear.  I was almost wondering if we'd imagined that it had, with the boat rocking so much from the wind, so was anxious to check and be sure that both are still in the nest and thriving.  

As we pulled up Saturday evening to get the nest in sight, there seemed to be no activity. Two Black Vultures were sitting oddly on an adjacent tree, a little higher up.  That was worrisome.  For the very fist time, no mature adult could be seen.  After a few minutes, one eaglet got up to stretch, with the second one following.  Both sat and peered over the edge for a while, intermittantly stretching.  Won't be long now before they'll be testing those wings!  

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Michael
I can't believe how much they have grown since last week. Great pictures as always.
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 12:15
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Latest from the Eagle's Nest - One Month In

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Exactly one month to the day of the first sighting of the eaglet chicks, Michael Mathews, Jill and Pete Wright, Linda Richtsmeier, and Jerry and I went out to check the nest.  We'll be doing this as often as we can, and posting photos so that we can all track their development!

Several photos follow, and on this afternoon, as always, one parent was in the nest with the eaglets.  Every time that we have visited, at least one parent is either in the nest or very close by; the other is surely out hunting.  At one point, the parent on duty seemed to be looking and whistling for the other.  

It appears that the babies have the last of the downy feathers on the tops of their heads and neck, as can be seen in some of the photos. They are growing rapidly at this phase, and adding a pound of body weight every four to five days!

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And Then There Were Two - Eagle's Nest, Week 4

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Making a quick check on Monday afternoon - the only day this week without predicted lake wind advisories - and at first only mom was visible on the nest.  Movement, then one head pops up.  We were thrilled and not expecting anything more, and within a few minutes, more movement to the left. A second little face is staring out!  Wow!  How great is this?  Not just one, but TWO eaglets in the nest! 

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Michael
OH BOY! And we had just about decided that there was only one since it had been so long since the first one appeared and none see... Read More
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 14:11
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

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In June of 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed a resolution designating Jasper, Texas as the Butterfly Capital of Texas. Although the resolution was passed because of the community’s efforts to help conserve the Monarch Butterfly, which passes through Jasper as one of the three major flyways for migration in the Fall, the resolution designated Jasper as the Butterfly Capital — not the Monarch Capital — of Texas. The Monarch is stunning, and important — it’s been designated as the State Insect of Texas. But since we are simply the Butterfly Capital, I think we should capitalize on some of the other gorgeous species that are indigenous to our Deep East Texas county.

By far the most stunning, in my opinion, is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus. Black tiger stripes on its forewings makes the common name easy to remember when you see it gathering nectar Spring through Fall, with a preference for red and pink flowers.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be seen throughout Eastern North America, and utilizes a number of host plants. Two of those hosts are very common in Jasper County — Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). They lay their eggs on the leaves of these host plants, and the caterpillar eats the leaves before that magical transformation into a butterfly. 

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Exciting Times on Lake O' the Pines - Eagle's Nest, Week 3

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Relieved to see that the eaglet has survived the recent storms, and is covered in a coat of gray down, which fits the timeline of 3-4 weeks of age. The black juvenile feathers will begin to grow in soon.  Mom and dad are taking turns at the nest and with hunting and feeding, and are never far from it.  In the last photo we can assume that mom is perched on the left; females are about 25% larger than males, and have deeper beaks.  It will be so much fun to watch this family in the coming months, and I can't wait for Michael and other friends to be able to get out with us and document this life.  Just think of how much we're all going to learn!  

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