After making it through Fourth of July fireworks, a bagpipe serenade and cannon fire, two young bald eagles living in a tree on the edge of downtown Kirkland have taken a big move toward adulthood.
They made their maiden flights from their nest high in a Douglas fir in Heritage Park, and are continuing to venture forth for flying lessons, usually with a watchful parent.
One bird took its first flight the morning of July 18, the other that evening, after days of flapping their wings and bouncing on branches, Eastside Audubon spokeswoman Mary Brisson said.
The young ones need more practice, Brisson said after watching them fly on Tuesday. “Their landings were bad, their flying was great,” she said.
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The eaglets, about 13 weeks old, drew widespread attention when Celebrate Kirkland! agreed to move the Independence Day fireworks launch site farther from their nest at the request of Eastside Audubon.
Birdwatchers feared the juveniles of unknown gender would be spooked by fireworks and fall from the nest.
One of the eaglets was startled — but stayed safely on the edge of the nest — on the morning of July 4 when the Seafair Pirates fired a cannon on Market Street near the nesting tree. Its sibling crouched lower in the nest.
That night, after the fireworks, a man began playing bagpipes below the nest tree — but stopped when he was told the birds were above him.
Hundreds of park-goers watched the eagles through the Audubon members’ spotting scopes on the Fourth.
“It was a great opportunity to let people know there is wildlife right among us, right in our midst. People were just so excited,” Brisson said.
The young eagles and their parents are expected to remain at their nest until late this year, when the family will move on to feeding grounds elsewhere.
The adults will, most likely, return to the Kirkland park early next year in the hope of raising another chick or two.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org