Each year new sticks and nest materials are added to the nest until after many years the nest can become enormous, possibly reaching a weight of as much as two tons. Adult American bald eagles can weigh about 10 pounds and can carry sticks and prey that weigh up to about four pounds.
My photo here, taken June 13, shows a juvenile flexing its wings in preparation to leave its nest. Since it takes about three months from hatching until flying from the nest, it can be estimated that the eagle in this photo hatched in early March.
A juvenile American bald eagle will stay near the nest site for several weeks after learning to fly. It will learn to hunt by watching its parents as they hunt. The parents will continue to stay nearby and sometimes feed their inexperienced offspring. A juvenile American bald eagle has brown and white mottled feathers. Its head and tail feathers will turn white and its beak will turn yellow at about age 5 when it becomes a mature adult.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.