A camera installed by Raptor Resource Project to monitor the nest of a bald eagle couple on a tree in Decorah, Iowa, has shot the unsuspecting pair to Internet stardom.
After the camera livestreamed the mother eagle laying the first egg for the couple in the 2015 breeding season on Wednesday at about 6:07 pm, the couple’s live video feed has gone viral online, with nearly 310 million views on Ustream by Thursday.
Some viewers have described the Decorah egg as a symbolizing “America in an eggshell.”
According to WHO-TV, the egg is the twenty-first for the pair. The Decorah bald eagles have raised successfully 20 eaglets to juvenile stage, but not all survived into adulthood.
Three were killed by electrocution when they alighted on power lines, while one suffered an injury to the wing. He is now permanently in captivity, being unable to survive in the wild on his own.
However, the the Decorah bald eagles are fortunate to have their nest located close to a fish hatchery, which provides them plenty of food year-round.
According to the Blaze, the pair first came to public attention last month, when a pair of horned owls attacked and tried to take over their nest. But the eagles defended their property successfully in a fierce battle.
According to Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project in Decorah, that was the first time such attack has been documented in the wild.
“The footage is shocking. This is the first time it’s ever been documented.”
However, the Decorah bald eagles are not the only bald eagles attracting a lot of attention online. It appears that Americans have a fascination with the bald eagle as the national symbol.
The common fascination with the miraculous biological process of conception, gestation, and birth — dawn of a new life — could also explain partly the fascination with eavesdropping on the private life of unsuspecting bald eagle couples.
On Friday, the hatching of the egg of a bald eagle pair on the campus of Berry College in Rome, Georgia, was also livestreamed.
The bald eagle couple established their nest on top of a tall pine tree on the campus in 2012.
The college has since installed three Sony cameras to run live video of the domestic life of the couple. The birds produced and successfully raised to juvenile stage two eagles in 2013 and one in 2014.
They first appeared in the neighborhood about three years ago and attracted attention as the first to nest in the city in 150 years.
The Pittsburgh bald eagles also had their first 2015 egg around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Bald eagles incubate their eggs for about 35 days, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The female often lays two eggs at a time, and occasionally three. All the chicks may survive under favorable conditions, but often only one chick survives.
Young birds develop enough wing feathers for flight at three months and usually become independent at four months.
The Decorah pair had their first egg last year on February 23. The egg hatched on April 2. Thus, they will likely hatch an eaglet late next month.
Millions will be monitoring the Decorah pair until the egg hatches. You may also watch them here.