Two eaglets die unexpectedly before springtime

Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

This past winter, the Berry Eagles welcomed two eggs that hatched on Feb. 18 and Feb. 21. Not even 24 hours after hatching, eaglet B13 died, and four days later, eaglet B12 also died. Viewers were warned via Facebook and on the live stream of disturbing content due to the presence of the eaglets’ bodies. The warning explained that the bodies could eaten by the parents or simply decomposing.

Renee Carleton, professor of biology, hosted a Q and A shortly after the deaths of the eaglets to clear up some confusion and misconceptions.

“Why both? That’s very surprising for us. We weren’t expecting this at all,” Carleton said. In other eagle nests across the country, death of eaglets is not an uncommon occurrence.”

Carleton also speculated at the causes of death of the eaglets.

“B13, I believe, had a very difficult time hatching,” Carleton said. “It took very long for that eaglet to come out of its shell, and in doing so, it was very weakened, and developed an infection associated with its yolk sac. For B12, we probably will never know exactly what happened.”

Carleton did provide some possible explanations for B12’s death including the weather, injury, or a respiratory infection.

Eaglet deaths are not an uncommon occurrence for eagle nests.

“(Eaglet deaths) are fairly common,” Carleton said. “If you look at the nesting success that we’ve had here, which has been phenomenal. Up until this point, it’s been over 90 percent. This year even with the loss of B12 and B13, and  B11 last year, our success rate is at 77 percent. The average for eagle nests is around 65.”

Sherry Roberson, an avid eagle watcher, has been watching the eagles since 2012. She shared her reaction to the announcement of the death of the eaglets.

“It was just like a part of your family dying because we have been out here since the very beginning,” Roberson said. “It was just hard.”

Roberson is dedicated to watching the eagles. Over the years, she has captured many shots of them on her camera. She loves watching them and seeing them fly.

“I hate when people say it’s just an eagle; it’s more than a bird,” Roberson said. “It’s Berry’s and ours. Every time I see them fly, it’s amazing, and they’re so dedicated to the nest and their babies. They would protect it to the death.”

The Berry College Eagles blog posted updates regarding the eaglets’ condition and posted after the deaths of both B12 and B13.

“It is very important now that we do what is best for the eagles and not interfere with the nest,” a post said. “If we tried to intervene now, we could risk injury to the eagles, or even risk nest abandonment.”

The blog also mentioned being in contact with the Department of Natural Resources and federal and state authorities. This is due to the laws surrounding Bald Eagles in the state of Georgia. While no longer federally listed as threatened or endangered, Georgia still considers bald eagles to be threatened. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources webpage, eagle nests are monitored year-round to determine occupancy, productivity, and potential threats to the nest as well as management needs.

The Berry College Eagle webpage has many resources and a link to the webcam where viewers can watch the eagles in their nest 24/7.

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