Pam Randles

Bald Eagle
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Bald Eagle Post-Fledging Facts
  • A young bird's first flight typically is not very far, and fledglings are reluctant fliers. Landing is a skill that takes practice. They may stay at their first perch for a few days before flying again or even spend time on the ground where they're vulnerable to predators.

  • Adults will continue to bring food to the young bird outside the nest as long as they know where the fledgling is.

  • Adult birds are tied to their fledglings, not to the nest, so they will tend to their young wherever they are after fledging.
  • A parent eagle’s job doesn’t end at fledging, however, and if the post-fledging care is included in the nesting cycle the length becomes closer to 5.5 or 6 months. Fledglings may continue to rely on their parents for food and other care for 4-6 weeks post fledging.

  • In most cases, parents continue to deliver fish and other prey to the young birds until they learn to forage on their own, which occurs between four and 10 weeks after leaving the nest. This stage is a very vocal time for the eagles as the adults and young call frequently to locate each other for feeding and security.

  • In more remote nesting areas the adults would stop bringing food into the nest for the returning young birds. Instead they would make sure the young birds would see them feeding so they would come to take the food and the parents would simply back off. 

  • Adult parents will continue to provide food for some time after fledging, while the newly flighted birds hone not only their hunting skills, but their flying skills. On average, it takes about 4-12 weeks for young eagles to start hunting successfully. Specialized hunting skills probably take years to develop.

  • Fortunately, their parents fed them well in the nest, so most fledgling eagles have some reserves when they fledge.
  • The eagles usually remain near the nest area through much of summer, however, 7 to 8 weeks after fledging, they may start to move further distances.

  • Once the young eagles are able to find food on their own (usually in early fall), the parents go their separate ways and remain solitary until the following breeding season.
  • If the eagles of the area migrate, they may start migrating. If the eagles do not migrate, they may just move to an area that has more food.

  • Juvenile eagles travel for the first four years of their lives. They wander great distances in search of food. During the first year of life, eagle mortality rate can be more than 50%. One year out of the nest their survival rate is much higher.

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