Conserve Wildlife Blog

Empty Nest Syndrome: NJ Eagle Chicks Fledge

June 6th, 2022

by: Larissa Smith, CWF biologist

Clinton nest, nine week old chick stretching it’s wings: photo by Linda Rapacki

The 2022 NJ Eagle nesting season is starting to wind down as chicks take their first flights and steps to independence. So far 61 chicks have fledged out of the 351 chicks reported in nests throughout New Jersey. This number increases each day as Eagle Project nest monitors report on fledging. Eagle chicks can fledge anywhere from 10-12 weeks of age. In the weeks leading up to their first flight, they will start stretching and flapping their wings, strengthening the muscles for flight. They can be seen hopping around the nest and hovering a few inches above the nest when flapping. Branching is when they begin to perch on branches of the nest tree.

This time can be dangerous for the chicks. They can accidentally end up out of the nest and on the ground before they are ready to fly. Every year we get reports of these types of situations. Depending on the age of the chick and the length of time in a rehabilitation center we can re-nest back to the nest site if the parents are still around or release to a safe location once they can fly. When the chicks fledge, they will still stay around the nest area for the next few weeks, learning to hunt and survive on their own. The earliest chick to fledge in New Jersey this season was the Edgewater chick on April 15th. The youngest chicks won’t fledge until mid-July.

Edgewater Chicks first short flight April 15th, 2022: photo by, Peggy Ferry

We know the fledge dates thanks to the dedicated Eagle Project nest monitors. Some monitors are able to view their nests and confirm fledging, while other nests are more difficult to view. Once the leaves emerge in the spring the view of many nests is blocked and fledging is assumed. Some of the nest monitors are lucky enough to witness the chicks fly or perch away from the nest tree.

We wish the eagle chicks of 2022 the best of luck!

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One Response to “Empty Nest Syndrome: NJ Eagle Chicks Fledge”

  1. Barb McKee says:

    Mt Airy Update: On June 6, just as I received notice from CWF that Larissa had published this excellent article about our chicks fledging, the older Mt Airy chick, H22, was taking her first flight! Her beautiful sibling, H23, is pictured in my photo above! This evening I went out to the nest near dusk, both the girls were in the nest having a great time with those big wings in the strong wind tonight! It was gratifying to see that H22 had returned after a successful first flight! Soon both will be be flying free, living as independent eagles.