Little Bit fights Back

Since the time of the storm, NE26 has been very competitive when it comes to food on the NEFlorida Bald Eagle Nest. Yesterday, the younger and much smaller sibling, NE27, did not have any food. The evening before Samson fed 27 until Little Bit had a large crop. Eaglets can go for as long as three days without food. Is it good for them? No. Do they get stress feathers? They can if the stress is severe. We have seen food competition on the SWFlorida Eagle nest but only for a few days when E19 and E20 were wee. We have seen it on the WRDC nest with R1 and R2 in a manner like what we are seeing on the Jacksonville nest of Samson and Gabby. It is good to remember that both R1 and R2 are doing well.

This morning a fresh fish was brought on to the nest of Gabby and Samson. There continues to be alert behaviour with the eagles. I made two short video clips. The first starts mid-way in the feeding. NE27 is very hungry and is getting its courage to snatch and grab. In the second clip NE27 is more comfortable dodging 26s’ head pecks and the old snatch and grab.

The first shows how easily younger and smaller siblings can be intimidated. You will notice that by now NE27 is very close to the parent and will discover putting its head over the rim of the nest out of 26s’ way. The parent will change the direction of the fish at some point. NE27 lands some bites of food. There is still fish left on the nest.

But wait.

NE27 if full and moves over to the other side of the nest. NE26 stays up by the fish. Look at its eyes. It is thinking I could just go over there and eat that fish myself!

Then Samson returns with another fish and NE26 is in the sweet spot to get some food. Perfect. Doesn’t that just put a smile on your face? NE27 is not paying attention – and then, of course, it notices what is going on.

This is a good position for 26 – behind Little Bit!

Both eaglets have a small crop. There is lots of fish on the nest. NE26 is still staring at that fish, though. Hunger is a huge motivator to self-feeding!

NE27 is learning to survive – to be clever, to work around the older sibling. Well done NE27! We are really proud of you.

At the 12:22 feeding, the adult fed NE26. Sadly NE27 went into submissive posture and did not get fed. But after the parent left, this is what happens.

26 passes out in a food coma and 27 continues to work on the fish.

Samson jumps into the nest. I thought he was going to feed them again.

But immediately he was off and Gabby was left as the lookout. This nest has had so much trouble with intruders.

Little Bit. You hold your head up high. You earned it today.

There are many articles about sibling rivalry on Bald Eagle nests.

“I think there’s always some form of sibling rivalry,” says Dianna Flynt, the rehabilitation supervisor at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Florida. “There has to be, because the stronger, older bird is going to be more aggressive when it comes to surviving. But sometimes, it’s very severe.”

Food availability is key. We saw Samson load the nest last week when the big storm was coming. Now you will see a fish on the nest because both Gabby and Samson have had to deal with intruders. Indeed, Gabby was very alert when she was feeding the eaglets this morning. So food being available and in quantity, weather, and other factors such as intruders can all influence eaglet behaviour on the nest.

Sibling rivalry is hard to watch – for all of us. We don’t like to see discord amongst the chicks but I sincerely believe, that in the long run, 27 is going to be just fine. Do not worry about 27. This nest is going to work out just like the WRDC in Miami with R1 and R2 and that is just fine. So big rounds of applause for NE27 who figured out how to get around that pecking older sibling today!

Thank you so much for joining me today. It is snowing and snowing again. Cannot believe how much snow we have this year. But – it is also very beautiful. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the NEFlorida Bald Eagle and AEF nest for their streaming cam where I took my video clips and screen captures.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for these updates. The littlest eaglet has got it now and know what to do. Very smart and I’m so proud of it.
    Have a great afternoon and take care!
    Your snow is very beautiful!

    1. Yes, so proud of 27. Later Samson returns and feeds Little Bit. He just needs to work around that big sister!!!!!!! So happy.

  2. Yaay for NE27!! So glad he’s figuring out how to get a few bites in here and there. I hope the intruders distracting the parents will leave the area and more food will he brought to the nest – enough for both eaglets to share. Here’s to big crops on both!Thanks for the updates, Mary Ann.

    1. Yes! And yeah for Samson who returns and feeds Little Bit who ignores 26 beaking! Hunger is a great motivator. So proud of 27.

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