In recent days Orv and Willa have been seen flying to the nest with fish, and even a rabbit, clenched in their talons. The adults do not typically bring food to the nest for themselves.
More clues came Friday, March 26 when Weller watched the adults ripping up food, lowering their heads and leaning forward. “What I ended up seeing was obviously feeding behavior,” Weller said. “That was our confirmation that there’s at least one baby.”
Right now, the eaglet is covered in a white down and is about six inches long and weighs a few ounces.
Willa, one of Carillon Historical Park's bald eagle residents, shreds up food in March 2021 to feed to an eaglet in the nest. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER
In a couple of weeks it will develop what Weller calls a “gray flannel suit of feathers” over its body which will help it regulate its own body temperature. Until then Orv and Willa will keep the baby warm and protected from sunburn and predators.
Weller will have visual confirmation of the eaglet toward the end of April when “they’re big enough and mobile enough to climb up to the rim of the nest and for us to count heads.”
Orv and Willa have had two eaglets each year since their first pair, Flyer and Soar, were born in 2018. Weller suspects there will be a pair this year.
“It’s kind of like whack-a-mole when you count heads,” he said. “You’ll see a little head pop up and then it goes down and then it pops up someplace else. You’re never really sure it’s the same bird or a sibling. It’s only an official count when you see both at once.”
Orv, one of Carillon Historical Park's resident bald eagles, soars over the nest he shares with his partner, Willa, during March 2021. An eaglet has hatched in the next the pair-bonded eagles share. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER
Weller said he is often asked if he can take a drone up to see what’s going on in the nest. Drones are prohibited in Carillon Historical Park to protect the eagles.
“Drones pose a real threat to the eagles,” he said. “They are hypersensitive about anything coming into their air space and they would attack the drone to take it down and we don’t want their feet getting into propellers.”
Visitors to Carillon Historical Park will have a good opportunity to see Orv and Willa from the ground as they soar in and out of the nest with food for their newborn offspring in the coming weeks.
Bald eagles have made a dramatic comeback in Ohio. Last year, a nest census indicated the state had 712 active eagle nests, an increase from the previous census completed in 2012, when 281 nests were recorded, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“It (egg hatching) is still just as thrilling now as it was when I first witnessed it,” Weller said. “It’s still just as exciting because there’s so many things that could go wrong. We just have to rejoice when they’re successful.”