You may be wondering why you have not seen the iconic American Eagle on the banks of Lake Jesup before departing for your airboat ride. Don’t worry! These magnificent creatures will be returning soon in Autumn! Earlier in the year you may have seen adult eagles with their young during your airboat ride as you pass by Bird Island. These new adolescents were the first to travel North for Spring Migration with the adults traveling sometime after.
Adult bald eagles begin fall migration when the northern lakes and rivers freeze over. Depending on location, they usually migrate to the coast. Some Eagles in Florida don’t migrate at all; instead they spend their days in the sunshine! There are many other species of bird that can be seen in and around Black Hammock; such as the Osprey which is often mistaken for a bald eagle. The beauty of our nature tour is to witness Florida Wildlife in their natural habitat. Every airboat ride is different with every season. You never know what you will see next, but our experienced airboat captains will guide you through the tour!
Migrating birds acquire directional information from landscape features and wind direction. Both landscape and wind can be influenced by major land forms, scents, the stars and sun as well as Earth’s magnetic field (increasing evidence indicates that birds collect magnetic field information through specialized eye receptors). Bald eagles tend to migrate in groups. A “stream” of migrating bald eagles can be twenty to thirty miles long, with birds spread out about a half mile apart.
Eagles fly during the day at speeds averaging 30 miles per hour – almost as fast as our airboats! To help them soar, eagles use thermals, which are rising currents of warm air and up-drafts generated by terrain. Soaring is accomplished with very little wing-flapping, enabling them to conserve energy. Long-distance migration flights are accomplished by climbing high in a thermal, then gliding downward to catch the next thermal, where the process is repeated. Many of our native Florida birds use this technique to conserve energy! So keep your eye on the sky for our treasured national symbol!