Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

Eaglets!

An eagle feeds its eaglets in the nest on Grey Cloud Island

Photo: Tom Bell

Spring is moving along and there is woefully little rest for the weary. No one knows this more than eagle parents.

In this part of Minnesota, eagles mate and lay eggs sometime in late February or early March. Both parents help incubate the eggs for about 35 days, although the female spends the majority of the time on duty.

In May, the eggs have hatched and the young (who were better-looking as eggs than birds, at least early on) are growing like gangbusters. This keeps their parents running, or in this case "flying", ragged. The parents feed the young shredded pieces of fish or mammal flesh. On this diet the young grow quite rapidly, adding a pound or so every five days. At just five-weeks-old, the eaglets are standing and can tear their own food. The young make their first attempts at flight around their 11-week birthday. The entire cycle — from the earliest nest enhancement or building to fledging — takes about six months.

There are many great places to see eagles along the river. However, please keep in mind that they are very sensitive to disturbance at this time of year when they are raising their young. Please enjoy them from a distance. The spectacular overlook at the Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area is a great spot for watching eagles as is the scenic overlook above Lake Rebecca in Hastings.

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