The Captiva Eagle’s Nest has been around for over since 2007. It was once an osprey nest and was originally taken over by a pair of eagles, Connie & Joe*.
*Joe is not the current male, we have not seen joe since February of 2021.*
Current Pair: Connie & Clive
Lori Covert, the owner of the land, is an avid wildlife enthusiast and conservationist. She hired Window to Wildlife to install cams in 2018 for private viewing. The first year of the cams, Connie & Joe hatched two chicks, YoYo & Ma. Sadly, Ma did not make it. YoYo did successfully fledge!
In 2019, Window to Wildlife added 2 more cameras to the eagle's nest, along with an osprey camera on the same property. In 2019, Connie & Joe had two eaglets fledge: Cap & Tiva.
2020 was a bad year for everyone including the eagles. November 2020 Connie lay 2 eggs which both hatched in December 2020 and the eaglets were named Hope and Peace. Unfortunately, in January 2021 Hope & Peace which sadly passed away from rodenticide poisoning. A big thank you to CROW for helping facilitate testing and helping combat the use of Rodenticides on the islands. Later that year, Joe went missing and Connie found a new mate, Martin.
In February 2021, Joe went missing after a territorial battle. A new male was observed in February around the nest. After much persistence, Connie accepted him and became her new mate. He was named Martin.
In September of 2021, Connie returned with Martin to their nest but on October 14, 2021, Martin was challenged by another male eagle and lost to that male. Once again with much persistence, Connie accepted this male, and he was named Clive.
2 Eggs laid December 4th & 7th. Sadly they did not hatch. We suspect that there was not a lot of successful mating with the new male, Clive.
The season started out strong with lots of visits by Connie and Clive to the nest. Their bond was looking stronger. On September 28th, Hurricane Ian destroyed the Captiva & Sanibel Islands. Connie & Clive's nest was destroyed, along with major damage to the cam system. Window to Wildlife rebuilt the nest and cam system about 1 month after Hurricane Ian. Connie & Clive had started to build another nest about 450ft in another tree. We were unsure if they would return to the nest we rebuilt them, but thankfully they did. On December 3rd, Connie laid her first egg. We are unsure when the 2nd egg was laid due to corrupt video recordings. We had to rely on internal recordings as internet had not been restored by then. Internet and cam streams resumed back to normal on December 27th.
This camera has had a few great streaming and educational partners in the past. This year Window to Wildlife will exclusively stream the cameras to YouTube. We are partnered with CROW to help provide education and local rodenticide prevention.
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is one of the nation's best rehabilitation centers and has been a huge help with the Captiva Eagle Cam. They have helped remove monofilament lines and hooks from the nest. During the 2020 season, we tragically lost two eaglets due to rodenticides. If it wasn’t for CROW, we wouldn’t have been able to identify the cause and work to remove rodenticides from Captiva island and the surrounding islands.
CROW’s Mission: The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine.
for more information about CROW.
Rodenticides (aka Rat/Mouse Poison) pose a significant risk to wildlife and pets. The most widely used rodenticides target vitamin K synthesis which is required for normal blood clotting to occur. When a rodent ingests rodenticides, death does not come swiftly. The toxins slowly build up in the rodent significantly reducing the animal’s ability to escape predators. If they don’t succumb to a predator first, they become an easy meal for a scavenger/predator once they pass away. An eagle, fox, or your pet isn’t going to pass up an easy meal when survival is at stake.
Rodenticide poisoning of wildlife has been going on for decades. The first rodenticides that relied on the toxins that unfortunately disrupt the natural process of blood clotting were developed in the 1940s and 50s. With the emergence of the internet and cameras, we are able to see the secondary effects of this toxin more frequently as it works its way throughout the food chain. It is a silent killer and often incredibly hard to identify. If identified, it is often too late to treat.
In 2021, Lori (owner of the cams) worked to educate and remove rodenticides from Captiva Island and adjacent islands. She was able to convince the largest pest control company on the island to cease their use of rodenticides. In addition, CROW is constantly educating the island’s residents and visitors about the danger of rodenticides and the alternative options they can utilize for effective pest control. People do not purchase rodenticides imagining that the toxins will poison more than just rodents. It is through education that we can empower the public to make the best choices for themselves and their local wildlife.
If you'd like to help the fight against rodenticides and rehabilitate wildlife in the Captiva Island area, please consider donating to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) by clicking HERE.
History and Statistics
The bald eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782, often being displayed to symbolize strength, courage, spirit, and independence.
Like most birds of prey, the bald eagle sports a fully feathered head. “Bald” in the case of “bald eagle” refers to the old English word “balde” which means “white-headed.”
The bald eagle’s scientific name, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, roughly translates to “sea” (hali), “eagle” (aeetus), “white” (leukos), “head” (cephalos). Of the ten species of sea eagle found throughout the world, the bald eagle is the only one endemic to North America.
By the early 1970s, the United States had witnessed a dramatic decline in bald eagle populations in the lower 48 states, dropping to only 417 known nesting pairs in 1963. This decline was largely due to the pesticide DDT which contaminated water sources and the bald eagle's most reliable food source. DDT caused a thinning of eggshells which reduced the number of eaglets that hatched successfully. Other factors that influenced the decline of the bald eagle included lead poisoning and illegal shootings.
The bald eagle was removed from the Federal Endangered Species list in 2007 and by 2019 had reached an estimated population of over 315,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The banning of DDT played a major role in the comeback of the bald eagle.
The state with the highest population of bald eagles is Alaska, with an estimated population of 30,000 birds. Following Alaska, Minnesota, and Florida have the highest numbers of nesting bald eagles.
Diet and Range
The natural range of the bald eagle covers nearly all of North America including the majority of Canada, the continental United States, and northern Mexico.
The bald eagle is native only to North America and they are often found nesting near large bodies of water including lakes, rivers, and oceans where they can be observed hunting fish. While fish tend to make up a large part of their diet, these birds are also known to hunt small mammals and birds as well. It is not uncommon to see bald eagles try to sneak an easy meal by stealing from another bald eagle or even an osprey.
Bald eagles utilize their large broad wings for soaring to help locate food. These birds can reach cruising speeds of 40 miles per hour and diving speeds of 120mph.
Nesting and Life Cycle
Bald eagles have the largest nests out of any nest-building species in North America. Nesting pairs will build nests together and often return to the same nest site year after year to add to and modify the existing nest. Per the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest bald eagle nest was recorded near St. Petersburg, FL in 1963, measuring an impressive nine and a half feet wide and twenty feet deep. It was estimated to weigh more than 4,000 pounds.
Bald eagles reach sexual maturity around four to five years of age at which point they select a mate. These birds often mate for life, though will take a new mate if their original mate passes away.
Male and female bald eagles will take turns incubating eggs. It typically takes 35-40 days for an eaglet to mature within the egg and hatch. When they hatch, eaglets can weigh less than 100g or about a quarter of a pound!
Eaglets mature at a rapid pace. They reach adult size and are capable of making their first flights at roughly 12-14 weeks of age. Females are often larger than their male counterparts. Generally the further north you travel the larger the bald eagles get. The largest bald eagles tend to be northern females which can weigh up to 16 pounds and have wingspans approaching eight feet. By contrast, the smallest bald eagles tend to be southern males, which can weigh as little as six pounds and have wingspans of five to six feet.
It takes four to five years for a bald eagle to develop their characteristic white head and tail, as well as their yellow beak and golden colored eyes. Prior to this, they are various degrees of mottled brown with a dark beak and dark eyes. During their younger years, they are often mistaken for golden eagles even though the territories of these two impressive predators rarely overlap.
For many birds of prey, the bald eagle included, the first year of life is the most difficult, and roughly 50% of bald eagles that hatch will not survive their first year. If they do survive they have a decent chance of living a relatively long life. On average these birds can live well into their twenties in the wild with the longest living bald eagle on record reaching the very impressive age of 38 after being banded as an eaglet in 1977.
Despite their impressive numbers, bald eagles and other birds of prey still face numerous obstacles on a daily basis. The biggest risks to bald eagles today include lead poisoning, heavy metal toxicity, rodenticides, fishing line and hooks, wind turbines, and habitat destruction and interference including climate change. To learn more about how climate change will affect eagles, click HERE.
It only takes a piece of lead the size of a grain of rice to cause the death of an adult bald eagle.
It is easy to incorporate decisions that can make a huge difference to bald eagles and your local wildlife in your daily life! Whenever possible, remove all fishing line and tackle after a day of fishing. It is easy for birds to entangle themselves in monofilament or ingest lead tackle or even hooks. Leave no trace! If you don’t fish but frequent areas where people do, encourage clean-ups to support your local wildlife. If you hunt, make the decision to switch to lead-free bullets. Support forms of renewable energy that do not have a negative impact on wildlife, such as solar as opposed to wind. Choose more natural forms of pest control, perhaps even encourage your local raptors to take up residence and get the job done by building nest boxes (research if you have raptors in your area like American kestrels, screech owls, or barn owls that will utilize them). Lastly, find communities of like-minded people who enjoy seeing these majestic birds and spread the word!
“In the end, we will only conserve what we love; we will only love what we understand; we will only understand what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum, 1968)
Nest Built: 2007
Nest Tree: Australian Pine
Nest Dimensions: Foot Long by 6 Feet Wide
Nest Height: ~75 Feet
Nest Work: 2022 the nest was blown down in Hurricane Ian. Rebuilt 1 month later.
Number of Fledges: 3 since the camera has been installed: 2018: YoYo, 2019: Cap & Tiva 2020: None 2021: None
Number of Eggs: 8 since the camera has been installed. Unknown before that time.
Number of Eaglets: 6 since the camera has been installed. Unknown before that time.
Number of Male Mates Connie has had: 3, Joe was first and longest mate and hasn't been seen since February 2021. Martin was second and took over March 2021- October 2021 & Clive is the current mate since October 2021.
Number of Cameras: 3, 1 PTZ (Overhead Camera), 1 Fixed View (Sideview Camera), 1 Long Range PTZ Camera.
Other Accessories: Lighting protection installed on the tree, 2 IR (night vision) illuminators, & 2 mics.
How to tell the difference between Connie & Clive:
Connie is a female which means she is at least 30% bigger than Clive, a male.
Connie currently has a distinct black dot/feather on the back of her head. This could change when she molts.