Happy Breakfish at Dale Hollow

20 March 2022

The atmosphere on the Dale Hollow Lake Bald Eagle nest was decidedly different this morning. Yesterday, after DH15 Middle had eaten, it was hoped that the tide would turn at this nest for the better. I remain cautiously optimistic at this point.

River brought a large fish to the nest at 07:17:49. DH14 Big moved up to have her breakfast. DH15 Middle remained at the centre of the nest listening. While Big is eating, Middle is going to quietly move around the right rim of the nest in hope of getting some breakfast.

River walks away from the fish and over to Middle offering it bites of fish. It is 07:37:33. This is a clear change in River’s behaviour. Until last evening, River had ignored Middle’s cries for food. Now she is reaching out to it to feed it. This is wonderful.

River moves back up to the fish extending her neck to Middle with bites of fish encouraging him to come up where the fish is. For some time Middle is uncertain. Big is watching and Middle is scared. However, what Middle does do is the ‘snatch and grab’.

Because he is scared, he drops bites which River picks up and offers to him again.

It feels slow but it is actually quick – Middle gets the confidence to move up to the table. He is encouraged by River.

Middle has a really good feeding. He beings to slow because its crop is full. River eats a few bites, continues to offer to Middle, and then Big moves up to the table. It is 07:47:11.

River offers Big some bites.

I had to re-wind several times but, lo and behold, Middle does the snatch and grab on some pieces meant for Big. This is a very good change. Indeed, you might begin to think that River pauses to see if Middle will grab.

We have to pause and take this all in. Within a period of nine minutes, Middle has gone from being frightened to eat to snatching and grabbing fish flakes that had previously gone to Big. Incredible.

River stops the feeding at 07:48:07. She aerates the nest a lot and broods Middle.

Obey joins River and the two chicks on the nest at 09:25:36.

River and Obey seem concerned about possible intruders.

Obey flies off to do security on the territory and River aerates more of the nest. you can see how much of the morning fish remains on the nest.

Middle is sleeping and having nice fishy dreams while Big moves up to be offered some more of the remaining fish.

There is not much fish left when Big finishes eating. She has an enormous crop! Middle is being cautious and has moved over to the rim.

Both chicks are sleeping with crops when River flies off.

Big moves over by Middle. I have to admit that I held my breath because of the concern over Big harming Middle. But…nothing happened.

This is the last image of the nest when I quit the morning report. All is well. The huge fish that arrived three hours earlier is all gone but a few flakes. It appears that there are intruders in the area so we do not know when another fish will come. We take this nest a day at a time but clearly there has been a shift in behaviour by all three. River is offering food to Middle and has now noticed that Middle is not afraid to snatch and grab some bites intended for Big. Middle has gained confidence while, at the same time, Big has established dominance and the ‘I eat first’.

Let us all wrap this nest with the most positive wishes we can. This morning was nothing short of joyful.

It is so nice to send a very positive nest report! Today we are on pip watch at the Redding Bald Eagle nest and expecting the third egg at Big Red and Arthur’s nest at Cornell (it might have happened while I was writing this).

Take care everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. See you soon!

Thank you to the DHEC for its streaming cam where I took my screen captures.


  1. Thanks so much for this good news this morning, Mary Ann! Prayers and crossed fingers here.

    1. Oh, I am delighted to send in this report. Tears. I am cautiously optimistic and taking it 3 or 4 hours at a time. Fingers crossed. But right now we celebrate!

    2. Linda Kontol says:

      Thanks Mary Ann for the update. It seems a little bit strange but I’m so glad things have settled down and middle is eating. Hope and prayers that it continues where there is enough food for them so Big won’t go on the warpath again towards middle as it did for little bit. 🙏
      Has little bits body been removed from the nest?
      Have a Blessed Sunday!

      1. Hi Linda, You are very, very welcome. I think River needed brood reduction and the parents normally make the chicks do this. She watched to see if Middle was worth saving – and he is! At 13:19:27 he initiated walking up to the table asking for food with little mind to Big. River fed him the remaining fish. They need lots of fish. Last night River buried Little Bit in the nest. Poor little thing. I still cry over the suffering it had to endure.

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