The continuing sadness at the Dale Hollow Nest

19 March 2022

I wanted to use the word ‘madness’ in the title instead of ‘sadness’ but I do not want to be one of the sensationalizing tabloid type newspapers.

WARNING: This is not graphic in terms of the images except for two. The text information helps to understand this nest on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee better.

It is most helpful to have the data of hatch times and feeding times so that you can get a clear picture of what has happened at a nest – the good and the bad. I now have all of the fish deliveries for the Dale Hollow Nest and the precise times of the three hatches. This is extremely informative when compared with other Bald Eagle nests.

I also want to say that if you look at some of the other nest chat’s you will notice that they list the poop shot times. This is really important. I did not observe either DH15 or DH16 having any PS for a number of days. These were not continually recorded. The internal organs of the chicks, as they suffer dehydration and starvation, begin to shut down.

This nest started out somewhat promising. My observation is that the female has done an inordinate amount of hunting and fishing for prey when she would normally be on the nest brooding the chicks especially at these early days. The nest had both rain and snow.


  • DH14 (Big) – 25 February 2022 at 11:16
  • DH15 (Middle) – 25 February 2022 at 11:51
  • DH16 (Little Bit) – 28 February 2022 at 13:21

Prey Deliveries:

  • 26 February – R fish head at 07:51; O squirrel at 08:12; O catfish head at 09:54; and O catfish head at 13:59
  • 27 February – There was no prey delivery
  • 28 February – There was no prey delivery
  • 1 March – There was no prey delivery
  • 2 March – R fish at 05:52:57. All nestlings have a crop drop. DH14 has a ps.
  • 3 March – O fish at 16:35
  • 4 March – R fish at 08:52:08
  • 5 March – O fish with a minnow in mouth at 16:42:08
  • 6 March – O fish at 05:55; R fish at 09:20:30
  • 7 March – O fish at 12:23; O fish at 15:19:42
  • 8 March – There was no prey delivery
  • 9 March – R crow at 06:55; R fish at 15:33:12
  • 10 March – R fish at 09:13:30; O fish at 11:33:41; R fish at 14:42:13
  • 11 March – ? fish at 10:52; O fish at 16:49:35
  • 12 March – O fish at 12:43:27; R fish at 13:01:27. Snowed overnight. All chicks lined up and eating.
  • 13 March – O fish at 11:47:14; R squirrel at 15:31:48; O fish at 16:56:20
  • 14 March- There was no prey delivery
  • 15 March – R fish at 09:14:51; R fish at 12:51:32. Minnow in mouth of 12:51 fish fed to DH14
  • 17 March – R fish at 14:29:13; O fish at 18:16. DH14 is the only chick to eat save for a few bites to DH15
  • 18 March – R fish at 07:07:04; O fish at 12:09:33. DH 14 is the only chick to eat. DH16 endures two days (17 and 18 March) of brutal attacks from DH14. At 15:30 DH14 begins a reign of terror on both DH15 and DH16. Beaking and intimidating both. This lasts until 19:20. DH16 dies of injuries and starvation around 19:11. DH14 had a huge PS.
  • 19 March – O fish at 07:04:56; R fish at 07:24:17. DH14 is the only chick to eat despite there being part of the first fish and most of the second fish on the nest. DH15 attempts to get some fish by trying to self feed. DH14 continues its reign of terror. DH15 at one point appears to want to jump off nest.

The last feeding on the 16 March where DH15 and DH16 get bites.

On the 19th of March, today, two fish. DH14 ate all but the tail of the first and will not allow DH15 to eat.

A second large fish comes on the nest and DH14 again eats and proceeds at all times to stop DH15 from eating.

DH15 trying to self feed. This chick is starving. It kept beaking the mothers beak last night begging to be fed.

Adult returns and DH14 eats again. Middle gets no food. Again it will try to self feed.

Efforts to keep DH15 away from the food have involved intimidation and physical attack.

Adult goes out of way to feed DH14 more fish.

There is food on the nest but DH15 has not eaten except for a few bites late on the 18th of March.

In an article, also posted at DHEC, the Canadian biologist and eagle expert, Dale Hancock, says, “Sibling rivalry is where the bully takes all or most of the food until that bully is full, and only then does it sit back and let the next chick get fed.” He continues, “If lots of food is available then all three chicks will get fed and survive – but not always will all chicks survive. This is nature’s successful plan but not a plan that is easy to observe.”

I have not used the word bully for DH14. These chicks are/were trying to survive in very dire circumstances that began to unravel at the beginning of hatch. Whether or not the lack of prey and lack of brooding is a constant at this nest is unknown to me. This is my first year of observations. I do not recommend this nest in the future despite the fact that circumstances can change. The frenzied killing and intimidation over a period of nearly four hours straight yesterday leaves me very cold towards DH14 and yet it is only trying to survive on a nest that is unstable. Whether or not this was a lack of prey in the area, intruder threats or both, and lack of parental care remains unclear.

All of the information on the hatch times and the prey deliveries and times have come from the log of the Dale Hollow Eagle Club (DHEC).

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