I'd been keeping an eye on the young bald eagle at Great Falls National Park for a couple months. I haven't seen the eagle in about 2 weeks and figured he had fledged. He was hopping around the nest when I last spotted him, as he is in the left image. But this weekend I noticed something that has me wondering his fate.
In the above you can see on the right a large portion of the nest tree is now missing. Over the last couple weeks we've had a lot of evening thunderstorms, and I wonder if lightning took out that part of the tree, and if possibly something happened to the eagle.
My last couple visits I was expecting to see the young eagle but didn't. And my last visit I didn't see ANY eagle (ie the parents) in the area. Usually I'd spot one or both within the surrounding area, but I didn't. I hope he's ok... Last year the pair of eagles failed to hatch any chicks. The year before they had one eagle that fledged.
I didn't realize what I was seeing at the time, and made a mental note to compare the images of the nest and tree when i got home... So, I didn't mention anything to the park service. Now I plan to call them, or send them an email and the images so they can investigate.
I don't have a good background on all the history of this nest/location, but I think I've heard that they switched trees 10 or 12 years ago or something due to the tree being struck by lightning. And a different male died a while back too, and the female joined up with a new (younger) adult after that.
When I was there last, I did look towards the base of the tree (from across the river) and spotted what looked like fallen branches, but again I didn't put it together until I compared the images (yesterday). If the young eagle perished with that part of the tree, he's probably still near the base of the tree.
(I called today and passed on the info to the park service...)
Here are some other shots of the nest.