Bald Eaglets Update

The Early Show: bald eagle
CBS/The Early Show
The Early Show has followed their progress of four baby bald eagles that have been released in a park in Manhattan, observing as the birds - and their handlers - adapt to the new environemnt.

Viewers also were given a chance to name the birds. On Thursday, find out who won he "Name the Eagles Contest" and get the lastest update on the baby eagles.

Interviews with New York Parks Commissioner Adrian Benape, eagle handler Tom Nelson and BP Oil representative John Lessa will be broadcast.

Wildlife biologist Tom Cullen manages the project that put the four eagles in a nesting tower at the northern tip of Manhattan. While they're still being fed by hand at their man-made treehouse, the eagles are starting to spread their wings. In fact, the oldest male has flown the coop - last seen several miles up the Hudson River.

Says Cullen, "He's actually found a companion. We believe a sub-adult female is hanging out with him and hopefully she's going to teach him the ropes as far as survival along the river is concerned."

The oldest female was the first of the group to try fishing for herself. But at low tide, she wound up a bit stuck in the mud. Park Rangers had to administer a quick bath before returning her to the nest. Meanwhile, the younger female is being treated for an infection, and the youngest male recently landed dangerously close to a busy highway and also needed a rescue.

"Adolescent behavior," Cullen observes. "Basically, they don't know what to do with themselves, so they decide to investigate everything, including traffic."

It's all part of growing up in the big city.

"I feel as though we've given these birds a much better opportunity than they would receive, in fact, in the middle of the Adirondacks," Cullen explains. "Being released out of a box here in Manhattan makes these birds far more capable of dealing with the intrusions they'll encounter later in life… It's tough no matter where you are, and birds need to be adapted to all aspects of their environment."

The four young eaglets were pulled from overcrowded nests in Wisconsin and, when they arrived in New York, were carefully placed in a plywood tower atop Inwood Park, on the northern tip of Manhattan. There, they are fed and watched as they grow.

Radio collars help track the birds, and they are monitored around the clock by Rangers. So far, the fledglings seem totally unfazed to be within half a mile of a very gritty and densely populated landscape.

Sara Hobel, director of the Urban Park Rangers, watches nervously as the young birds spread their wings. These eagles hold special meaning for the Rangers, who were heavily involved in World Trade Center recovery efforts.

"You can't deny the symbolism of the bald eagle in this particular year," Hobel says. "You know, it's a magical thing; it's one of the reasons we have symbols. When I see those symbols up there, it's pride, it's a sense of personal accomplishment and also a sense of accomplishment for the group that worked so hard on this."