A baby bald eagle that hatched at the end of April at Carillon Historical Park took its first flight this week.
Jim Weller, the founder of Eastwood Eagle watchers, has been keeping an eye on the bald eagle family since January and witnessed the first flight of the eaglet dubbed, Flyer.
“It happened in a split second,” said Weller. “I said ‘there she goes, there she goes.’”
A gust of wind eased Flyer from her nest at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday as she was "wingercizing," hopping up and down in her nest to gain strength.
“She tried to grab the branch of a nearby tree, but the small branch gave way under her weight and she was forced to release it,” Weller said. “She then made a large semicircular left turn as she lost altitude.”
Flyer landed on the ground and Weller stayed after the park closed to make sure she was safe.
“The Glen Helen Raptor Center suggested that I watch for mom and dad to care for her and just after six, mom arrived and perched on a tree near where Flyer had secluded herself,” Weller said. “Knowing that mom was there, I then left the park giving mom and eaglet space without human presence.”
Baby Flyer’s parents, Orv and Willa, built a nest in January directly above Wright Hall, home to the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. The location the pair chose for their nest at the park is a rare chance for the public to watch bald eagles up close.
For 70 years, bald eagles were absent in Dayton. The last-known nest was abandoned in 1938, Weller said. It wasn’t until 2008 when a pair later named Cindy and Jim appeared near Eastwood MetroPark.
Weller believes there is a good chance Flyer is the granddaughter of the pair. Cindy was electrocuted and died in 2016.
As Flyer took the first flight, “I thought to myself, Cindy would be proud to see her granddaughter flying off like that,” Weller said.
Weller initially didn’t see any signs of Flyer when he returned Wednesday but in the afternoon heard the eaglet calling from the heavy underbrush on the hillside above the park.
The following day Flyer was spotted on the rooftop of the park’s James F. Dicke Family Transportation Center. “Her presence on the rooftop proved that she could fly with enough strength to rise several stories high.” Weller said. “After several hours she flew the entire length of the park and landed on the ground near the park entrance on Carillon Boulevard.”
She continued to make short flights and navigated back to the transportation center “which proved she remembered her way back and that she could negotiate her way as she flew,” Weller said.
She eventually took up a perch in a tree near the nest she was born in. “Eaglets will eventually return to the nest as that is where food has magically appeared all their lives,” Weller said.
There’s still time to watch the bald eagle family as Flyer stretches her wings and becomes more independent.
“She is learning much about flying and landing,” Weller said. “She will most likely stay in the trees of the park for a week or two as she hones her skills. Mom and Dad will continue to bring her food until they have taught her to fish on her own in August and September.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BALD EAGLES?
Jim Weller, founder of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers, posts photographs and stories on the blog, eastwoodeaglewatchers.wordpress.com.
He can be found many weekday mornings at Carillon Historical Park sharing his knowledge about bald eagles with visitors. He recommends bringing a pair of binoculars to watch the eagles or a camera with a telephoto lens for photographs.
WANT TO GO?
Where: Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults: $8 (ages 18-59), Senior: $7; Children (ages 3-17): $5. Children under 3 and Dayton History members: free
More: For information about Carillon Historical Park call (937) 293-2841.