New National Mascots

August 12, 2013 Posted by: Luke Rosier

How many commutes to work include a regular eagle nest observation opportunity?  I have found that living in Alaska certainly increases your chances.  Kenai Fjords National Park and the surrounding land is home to hundreds of Bald Eagles.  The eagles are typically concentrated around the Gulf of Alaska coast and or productive salmon streams.   The Exit Glacier area is neither coastal nor does it witness salmon spawning in the sediment laden glacial stream, so there are no Bald Eagle nests in close proximity to the glacier.  However, the commute from Seward to Exit Glacier along the Resurrection River has several productive eagle nests.  Watching the entire nesting process from April until August is a real treat.

One of the most visible eagle nests is right across from the road leading to and from Exit Glacier.  This year was a particularly productive year for the resident eagles there.  Eagles typically lay 1 to 3 eggs in their large stick nests.   Because of a slight disparity in hatch time the chicks are usually staggered in their stages of development.  In nests where 2 or 3 chicks hatch the oldest chick has a head start and gains a size advantage.  This is most pronounced in the early stages after hatching.   The oldest hatchling has been known to outcompete other eaglets or even kill its sibling.  Because of these reasons three eaglets fledging from a single nest is very rare.  This was one of those rare years for the “Apex” (as it is generally referred to) nest.  Three eaglets could be seen in varying stages of development all summer and I anxiously waited for fledging to see if they all make it. 

At this point I have breathed a sigh of relief.  I’m fairly certain they have fledged but I haven’t actually witnessed flight.  I was never able to stop mid commute for a picture but a quick internet search reveals visitor blogs which will confirm the chicks’ presence.

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