hoosing images for this calendar was a rewarding, but frustrating process. There are so many images you would like to include, but there are only 13 months (12 + the preceding December) and therefore 13 images.
For the May image of the Eagles & Eaglets 2020 calendar, I chose one of the eaglets catching some serious air as it is flapping and strengthening its wings in preparation for the time when it will fledge the nest, which wouldn’t be too much longer after this was taken.
They are now about 10 to 11 weeks old, and you can see just how fast the eaglets grow when compared to the previous months’ images. For the most part, they are fully grown and their wings have filled out beautifully.
The weeks leading up to this image were very interesting to watch the eaglets as their wings started to fill out, and they began stretching them out and figuring out just what in the heck to do with them. On windier days, they would position themselves into the face of the wind and start flapping and catching a little air at first. And then as they got better and more comfortable, they would really start putting some space between themselves and the nest, especially if they caught a good gust of wind.
And before they fledge, they start doing what is called “branching” which is when they climb out onto the branches connected to the nest and just sit for a spell. And eventually they start flapping and hopping from the branch to the nest or branch to branch. It’s a little nerve-wracking to watch them since the nest is a good 20 to 30 feet off the ground, and you just wonder if they would be ready if they happen to miss a landing.
Here’s a good resource for learning more about what eaglets do prior to fledging: Bald Eagle Fledging Facts
Below are 3 different galleries that show their progression of strengthening their wings and preparing for flight, starting from three weeks before they fledged to the days right before they took their maiden flight.