Bald Eagles Ralph & Alice
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Ralph & Alice Welcome 3 Baby Eaglets

Bald Eagles Ralph and Alice have had another successful mating season!

Bald Eagle Couple, Ralph & Alice

Photo Credit : David Downie

Butler County's favorite Bald Eagle couple, Ralph and Alice, have completed their seventh mating season at their nest located along the Great Miami River. Normally, Bald eagles lay 1 to 3 eggs each mating season. Last year, Ralph and Alice had two eggs hatch. This year, the couple welcomed three new Eaglets to their nest. 

Hello Baby Eaglets!

It is estimated that the new baby Eaglets hatched between March 27th and April 1st. Because they are still young, the Eaglets will be hard to see until they begin to leave the nest— you can see how small they are in the photo below!

Baby Eaglets in Nest

Photo Credit : David Downie

However, young Eagles grow rapidly, gaining about 1/2 a pound every week until they reach 9-10 weeks old. Ralph and Alice have their own Facebook group, where birders and photographers post daily with updates and photos.

Some photographers, like David Downie, have been photographing Ralph and Alice for years. You can check out some of their amazing photos in this blog here.

Baby Bald Eagles

Photo Credit : David Downie

A young Bald Eagle's growth usually goes like this:

  • 2 Weeks — It is possible for Eaglets to begin to hold their heads up for feeding. 
  • 3 Weeks — Most Eaglets are 1 foot high and their feet and beaks are nearly adult size. 
  • 3-6 Weeks — Juvenile feathers will start to develop. 
  • 4-6 Weeks — The birds are able to stand and tear up their own food. 
  • 6 Weeks — The Eaglets are nearly as large as their parents. 
  • 8 Weeks — Their appetites are at their greatest point; their parents hunt continuously to feed them as they grow! 
  • 9-10 Weeks — The Eaglets begin "branching" or jumping from branch to branch in order to prepare for flight.
  • 10-14 Weeks — The birds take their first "Fledge" or their first flight away from the nest. 

Bald Eagles Nest, Ohio

Photo Credit : David Downie

We will also be posting more updates about the new Eaglets and Ralph and Alice as their journey continues here in Butler County. We are excited to see them grow!

Update: May 20, 2021

The Eaglets are now around 49 days old, and officially full size!

Bald Eagles Eaglets

Photo Credit : David Downie

Bald Eagles do not start acquiring their adult plumage (white feathers) until about 4.5 years old. All Bald Eagles acquire the pure white head and tail adult plumage at the age of 5.5 years old. The three Eaglets will soon start practicing for their first fledge. They will start to flap their wings in the nest and begin to jump to nearby branches, a behavior known as branching, that helps them prepare for flight.

Update: July 12, 2021

All three Eaglets have officially fledged the nest! 

Eaglets Fledging

Photo Credit : Russ Ebbing

Sadly, fledging means it’s the beginning of the end for this year’s season. The young eagles will stay near the nest for the next 4-6 weeks before heading out on their own. Ralph and Alice will still bring them food, but will be around less and less to encourage the Eaglets to explore and go out on their own. 

Eaglet Parenting

After completing this mating season, it is estimated that Ralph and Alice have had 15 Eaglets in total— so the couple is not new to being parents. Although Bald Eagles are much different than people, the basics of parenting are still pretty similar...

They keep a close eye on their kids. Ralph and Alice take turns sitting at the nest to watch over the Eaglets, and will do so until they are old enough to take their first flight. 

Bald Eagle, Butler County Ohio

Photo Credit : David Downie

They provide the food for their kids. Baby Eaglets will eat up to eight times a day. Ralph and Alice will hunt and provide food for the Eaglets until they are old enough to leave the nest, typically about 20 weeks old. 

Bald Eagles Nest

Photo Credit : Tom Geier

They protect their kids from strangers. While one parent watches over the Eaglets, the other will hunt for food and guard the nest from predators. Below you can see Ralph protecting the area around the nest from other birds. 

Bald Eagle, Butler County Ohio

Photo Credit : Russ Ebbing

Sometimes, they may get a little stressed out! ...rough night Ralph?

Bald Eagle, Ohio

Photo Credit : David Downie

Stay tuned for more updates on Ralph, Alice & their Eaglets!


Author Bio, Karly D

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