Signs indicate there’s a new baby in Orv and Willa’s nest

Orv and Willa, Carillon Historical Park’s resident bald eagles, have a baby eaglet in the nest according to signs witnessed by local eagle experts.

Jim Weller, founder of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers, has been keeping a close watch on the nest in anticipation of the end of 35-day incubation period.

Last week he noticed the parents were standing upright in the nest more than they had been, most likely as the eaglet was pipping – “poking a little hole in the eggshell” to get out.

It takes two days for the eaglet to get completely out of the shell and then it sleeps to recover from its exhausting escape. When the baby wakes up it is hungry and “feeding behavior” begins, Weller said.

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.

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.”

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.”

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