Breeding Cycle - 2017
Progress and completed stages shown in red
There are four stages of nest building, each one merging into the other.
a) Building with large and small dry branches, this usually occurs at the end of February to middle March.
b) Building with Dry branches and green leafy sprays (Usually Rouge Lepodictae - Mountain Rouge). This is the time you will first observe the birds mating. (Beginning to end of March)
c) Building with more leafy sprays than Branches. This is the start of the formation of the eggcup for laying purposes. Mating will occur more frequently. (End March To early April)
d) Building with mostly leafy green sprays, the female will spend longer periods on the nest forming the nest cup. This is a sign that laying is imminent. Mating will occur more frequently. (Mid to end April).
This will usually be observed after nest building has been in progress for some time. Mating is not, however, a certain sign that the female will lay, or that nest building will proceed to the eggcup stage. Mating occurs often after both birds have fed, the male usually flies in and lands next to the female, walks forward and mounts her. The female may solicit mating by walking towards, or facing her mate bending forward, the male will mount her with much wing flapping. Copulation has been timed from a few seconds up to 12 seconds only. Mating can occur many times in one day.
This occurs towards the end of April early May, if the female is spending long periods of time on the nest arranging only green leafy sprays be sure that laying is imminent, she will also sit on the nest before laying. A lot of mute radiating from the nest site indicate that the female has been roosting in the nest for some time or eggs have been laid. If the latter, the male or female eagle will be on the nest most of the time.
Two creamy white eggs are laid four days apart followed by a 44/45 day incubation period, both eagles sharing the incubation (approx 70% female 30% male - this varies from season to season), the fluffy white chicks are hatched 4 days apart. During incubation the adult birds will eat away from the nest so as not to damage the eggs. Prey should be brought to the nest a few days before hatching.
(Cain and Abel struggle) commences when the first hatched chick (Cain) will attack and eventually kill its sibling (Abel) after a 3-4 day struggle. The first chick being the older and the stronger will intercept the food offered by the female. The male will provide the majority of the food while the chick is on the nest, the female will defend the nest and she alone will feed the young chick, especially in the early stage. The chick will grow into a handsome golden/brown juvenile eaglet.
This takes place at approximately 97 days after hatching. The young bird chooses its moment to leave the nest, it is not encouraged, and still less taught to fly. With the Wonderboom juveniles the females fledge much later than the males. Females are slightly bigger than males. Approximately three weeks before fledging the juvenile will strengthen his wings by flapping them vigorously.
For approximately three months the adult birds will teach the juvenile it?s survival skills, bringing food for it to the nesting gorge. Towards the end of the three months the male eagle will initiate aggression towards the youngster especially when there is prey in the area. The juvenile will fly further and further afield, no longer returning to the nesting gorge and ultimately it will depart from the territory altogether.