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Spring brings a bevy of babies to the Loop!

Roni Freund Pete Freund Photography | 05/22/2019 | Blog, Lake Chelan Valley, Leavenworth Cascade Foothills, Methow Valley, North Cascades, Seattle, Seattle Northcountry, Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island, Stevens Pass Greenway, Wenatchee Columbia River Valley, Whidbey Scenic Isle Way, Wildlife Viewing

By Roni Freund

Spring brings a bevy of babies, and we can’t get enough of the avian species found here in every corner of the Cascade Loop. There are many lakes, rivers, creeks and waterways that create a perfect habitat for ducks, geese, osprey and eagles to nest and raise their young. Keep a sharp eye out for these fuzzy critters!

Ducklings


Fuzzy little ducklings are some of the cutest aquatic babies to be found on the waters of the Cascade Loop. Born in the spring, they hatch and spend only a day in the nest, before venturing out to swim and catch their own food. You can spend an enjoyable morning watching a raft of ducklings experimenting with what is and is not edible. 

Ducklings will stay very close to momma duck until they are nearly 2 months old. At night they will snuggle for warmth and protection. When the ducklings reach four or five months of age, it will be time to fly south for the winter, before returning the next spring to where they were born to begin families of their own.

When in flight, a group of ducks is called a flock, but when they are on the water, they are called a raft, a brace, or a team. 


Goslings


Canada geese are commonly found in almost every area of the Loop. They spend most of the summer in flocks, grazing on the plush grass of park lawns and swimming in calm waters. Early in spring they separate into pairs and will find a good place to build a nest. The female typically selects the site and does much of the construction before laying. While she sits on the eggs, the male will guard her and the nest. The eggs hatch after about a month, and within 24 hours the goslings will leave the nest, following their parents, as they can swim right away. They are born covered with down, which are actually very soft feathers. Within 2 month they will grow adult feathers and will begin flying. The parents keep the brood together and watch closely for predators, namely larger birds of prey, like osprey and eagles. 

A group of geese in in flight is called a skein or a wedge, but when they are on the ground, you call them a gaggle!

Eaglets

Bald eagle pairs work together to build massive nests made of sticks and twigs, high in the top of trees. A clutch of one to three eggs will be laid, and they will hatch after 35 days. Nestlings are fed raw meet from the day they hatch, but the parents do not regurgitate for the babies, but bring them food that they tear into pieces and feed by mouth. By the time they are about six weeks old, they can tear food and feed themselves.

The eaglets are born with soft, light colored feathers and after the first few weeks they begin to darken and by four weeks old they are about a foot tall, and their flight feathers begin to form. By the time they are nine weeks old they are fully grown, but they will not develop the white head and tail until they are five years old. 

At 10-12 weeks they will be able to fly and leave the nest for short periods, but they stay close to mom and dad for a few months, before heading out to live a mostly solitary life until they reach maturity at 4 or 5 years. 


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