Over the course of the nesting season, two questions keep arising, so we thought we'd would address them on the blog. The most-asked questions are:
How can you tell which eagle parent is the male and which is the female?
How can you tell the sex of the two chicks?
First question first: There's no easy answer since male and female adult Bald Eagles look the same at first glance-- unlike, say, Northern Cardinals, where the male and female are easy to tell apart. The most definitive way to tell the Duke Farms male from the female is to look for a band on the eagle's leg. The male is banded, the female is not.
When both eagles are on the nest together, you can see a size difference. The female is the larger one. A third way is to look at the eagles' heads. The above video from the Decorah Eagles website might help. Determining the sex of the chicks is even more difficult since any size differences may not be apparent until much later, and both chicks may be the same sex. The only sure way to tell is through a blood test, which both eaglets will receive when they are banded in a few weeks.
A third question that Duke Farms gets is, "Why don't you name the Bald Eagle parents or eaglets?" The answer is simple: Duke Farms does not give names to the eagles or eaglets because they are wild creatures.
Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Wright writes The Bird Watcher columnist for The Record. He is the author of four coffee-table books about wild places, and the deputy marsh warden of the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, N.J.