Triplet Eaglets, Twin Colts and Septuplet Ducklets

In case you haven't heard, spring is the season for babies.

Here at Peterson Bay Field Station, a pair of bald eagles is accomplishing an incredible feat: they are raising triplets!

The broken crown of a seaside spruce makes an ideal platform.

I'm taking photos every day to mark their progress. To the eagle experts out there: any idea how old these chicks might be?

On the Lost and Found Lake Loop Trail, which winds through a mile-and-a-half of Lutz spruce forest, I found the sign of an American robin's reproduction: the cracked shells of two sky-blue eggs.

Cracked sky.

Shell fragments.

A proud mom or a heartbroken orphaner?

I don't know if the eggs hatched or were pilfered by raven or raccoon.

On my day off here in Homer, I circumnavigated Beluga Slough through questionable tides, estuarine mud, and private property.

Kenai Mountains in the background.

Kachemak Bay on the horizon.

I ducked behind the tree line to read a chapter of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac on somebody's hand-hewn log bench. Seven northern shovelers flew in as soon as I was out of sight.

Pendulous bills make for good shoveling.

I've never seen such an enormous hoof print. Moose were probably watching me follow their trail.

Further along, I discovered septuplet ducklets. Their species eluded me at first. Mallards have orange bills; green-winged teal have dark faces; gadwalls aren't common here.

What nice eyeliner you have. I always go for down-turned wings, too.

Is that a peek of blue speculum I spy?

But with enough patience and photographs, I got a look at her blue speculum, and I believe she is simply a dark-billed mallard mama.

Ahh, blue indeed!

On my walk home, I got a much closer view of a mother mallard with only two ducklings. She had a dark bill and a brilliant blue speculum, confirming my identification.

And her duckling took an adorable bath while practicing her dabbling! I wonder how even their down is waterproof?

A baby duck is a duckling (or ducklet, with poetic license). A baby eagle's an eaglet. What do you call a baby crane? Take a gander. (No, a gander is a male goose!)

I'll give you this one. A baby crane is called a colt!

Watching them gambol through the grass makes clear the resemblance between filly and fowl. I couldn't get too close to the pair of colts this morning, but you can see their yellow fluff nudging mom or dad for food.