ROMEO: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle • Born: Unknown • Gender: Male
JULIET: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle • Born: Unknown • Gender: Female
SAMSON: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle • Born: Dec. 23, 2013 • Gender: Male
GABRIELLE: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle • Born: Unknown • Gender: Female
HAIL AND FAIRWELL – Changing of the Guard
As our viewers will remember, since 2008 Gretchen Butler has been carefully keeping records of this Bald Eagle nest, located in Northeastern Florida. The pattern of life in the Hamlet was predictable, with resident eagles, Romeo & Juliet, returning in early Fall to begin a new season, lay their eggs and raise eaglets to fledge. At the same time, they protected their nest from all intruders, keeping eggs and eaglets safe. They maintained an unprecedented 100% success rate over 10 seasons, raising 19 eaglets.
However, the 2018-2019 season was very different, as several large mature eagles disturbed the peace and tranquility of this nest. The expectations of the season ended in heartache as Juliet returned to the nest with an injury and was subsequently driven from the nest by a rival just days before the eggs were to hatch, leaving Romeo to do the work of two. When an egg hatched on Christmas Day 2018, a female eagle following Romeo to the nest swooped down and took the hatchling. The following day, Romeo left the area and neither Romeo nor Juliet has been seen since.
Eventually, a male eagle began appearing with regularity, and was subsequently identified as Samson, an offspring of Romeo & Juliet from the 2013 nesting season. Different female eagles appeared at various times, sometimes with Samson; sometimes alone. One very vocal yet peaceful eagle in particular appeared to have his attention more than others, and she was initially called A2. By photo comparison, it was determined A2 was not the eagle that took the hatchling.
In the 2019-2020 season, the NEFL team was given the honor of naming A2, and they chose “Gabrielle.”
Update 1-17-20: Samson and Gabrielle are now a bonded pair and have claimed ownership of the NEFL nest. On January 13, 2020, Gabrielle laid her first egg, NE22, and on January 16th the second egg, NE23 was laid! We look forward to the new season ahead!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ROMEO & JULIET
Romeo and Juliet are a pair of wild Eagles who lived in Northeast Florida. Since 2008 the returned to the same nest, located 80′ above the ground in a Long-leaf pine tree. Each new year, they completed a new cycle of nestorations, egg laying, and raising their offspring. The nest is sizable, likely weighing close to a ton.
Romeo and Juliet were dedicated parents. They typically laid and hatched two eggs annually and helped their Eaglets successfully fledge. Food was always plentiful
In late August or early September, the eagle pair typically returned to this nest to begin their nesting cycle, which included bonding, mating, nestorations, egg-laying, incubation, hatching, and raising their brood until their youngsters fledge and are able to fend for themselves.
Mom (Juliet) and Dad (Romeo) typically remained in the nest area for 30-45 days after their young fledged and left the area, enjoying some well-deserved time alone together in their special Florida habitat. Then, Romeo would head north for cooler, less humid climates first, and Juliet would leave several days later. The following breeding season, they would return like clockwork and start their nesting, mating, and family-raising process all over again.
VIDEO STREAMING THE NEST
Since 2008, Gretchen Butler, volunteer for the Audubon ‘EagleWatch’ Program and the American Eagle Foundation’s ‘Eagle Nest Cam’ Program, has closely monitored and documented important events associated with these eagles and their offspring. Her goal was to initiate the process for installing this Eagle cam, which would allow an up-close-and-personal glimpse of these majestic Bald Eagles to a worldwide audience, educating individuals of all ages about the USA’s precious National Symbol.
With the support of the American Eagle Foundation, that mission was accomplished. In August 2013, prior to the return of the eagles, two high-definition PTZ video Cam were installed, providing a view into the nest and a view up into the nest tree from below. The following year, a second, solar-powered PTZ HD cam was installed in the nest tree at a different angle, providing a total of three views. With the start of the 2019-2020 season, we now have four cams from which viewers can choose to watch! This allows everyone watching to experience all the excitement—Eggcitement—and nest activities without disturbing the day-to-day life of these nesting eagles.
The AEF also provides a moderated Chat Forum to enhance the experience and to welcome and educate viewers. Dedicated Chat Moderators and Remote Camera Operators have the AEF’s undying gratitude for their professionalism, attention to detail, and welcoming presence they bring to all viewers!
It’s a major task to install the equipment necessary to video-stream a wild nest. Many people were involved, including donors, tree climbers, arborists, video camera technicians, electricians, wildlife conservation experts, property owners, cable TV technicians, webmasters, and nest-watch volunteers.
Watch the streaming video equipment installation video:
Enjoy an end-of-the-season slideshow created by chatter Lil O’Rourke Gillar, with highlights from the 2014-2015 season:
ABOUT BALD EAGLES
Bald Eagles typically mate for life. They will only look for a new mate if their faithful companion dies. Together, they build huge nests known as ‘aeries’ atop tall and strong trees. They make use of twigs, grasses, soft mosses, and feathers in making their nests.
They normally return to the same nest during breeding season, adding new materials to it each year. A new eagle pair’s nest measures about five feet in width and two feet in depth, but as they add to it year after year, it can reach widths of over ten feet and weigh up to a ton or more.