When a nest of American bald eagles hatched this April, they made local and national news as the first observed bald eaglets to hatch in Cook County in more than a century. Now at least one has fledged and is flying around the eagles’ Tampier Slough home.
After the eaglets hatched this spring, their parents immediately began to tend and feed them. In June, Forest Preserve staff, through a thick screen of leaves surrounding the nest, could barely make out juveniles, by then much larger and test-flapping their wings. In late July, at least one confirmed juvenile bird finally took the plunge off the eagles’ tree and learned to fly—a sometimes harrowing experience known as fledging.
Juvenile bald eagles can be distinguished from their adult parents by the absence of the trademark white (“bald”) head and white tail feathers. The all-dark juveniles won’t have the classic bald eagle look until year four or five, though they may appear mottled with white in years two and three.