With the nation, even the world, anxiously watching for the better part of a week, the second of two baby American bald eagles cracked its egg Saturday morning and was fully hatched by early Sunday. Its sibling was born on Friday.
The nest of adult bald eagles nicknamed “Mr. President” and “The First Lady” is on display courtesy of the Agriculture Research Service’s U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. It can be viewed around the clock over two high-definition, live-streaming video cameras at www.eagles.org/dceaglecam. But there is a disclaimer at the site that “anything can happen.” So beware.
“While we hope that two healthy juvenile eagles will end up fledging from the nest this summer, things like sibling rivalry, predators, and natural disaster can affect this eagle family and may be difficult to watch,” the site warns.
At the same time, the AEF encourages people to share the videos and photos taken from them over social media, and their encouragement has not gone unnoticed. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others have been abuzz with the images, posted by news organizations and individuals.
DC2 and DC3 have a sibling, DC1, who was born last season. The public will be given the opportunity to choose names, according to the Washington Post. And perhaps the AEF is hinting its preference with the names given the parents and its billing of the event in a news release as “the most patriotic Nest Cam project of them all.”
“The opportunity to sponsor a project of this nature is such an honor,” said AEF Founder and President Al Cecere at the outset. “Video nest cams featuring our National Symbol nesting in our Nation’s Capital … you just can’t get much more patriotic than that. It’s going to be a fantastic addition to our growing Eagle Nest Cam Educational Outreach Program.”
The bald eagle watch is a collaboration between the arboretum, the American Eagle Foundation of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Alfred State, SUNY College of Technology, with resources and support from D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mr. President and The First Lady left the nest last August for an annual migration. Scientists who had been awaiting that moment installed the cameras and other equipment with the help of experienced tree climbers, according to the AEF news release announcing the effort.
A half mile of fiber optic cable was required and the site is solar powered with the help of students and staff from Alfred State.
There was some risk, as the AEF noted in the release.
“Bald Eagles don’t always return to their first year nest. We took a huge risk investing in this project and partnering with the Arboretum without any type of certainty that the Eagles would actually return,” said AEF’s P.R. Coordinator Julia Cecere, “It was happy day for everyone when both eagles were spotted back on the nest this past October.”
The first eagle egg this season was laid on Feb. 10 and the second, perhaps appropriately, on Valentine’s Day. It takes about 35 days for an eagle egg to hatch.
This is the first time eagles have nested in this location since 1947. The nest is in a tulip poplar tree amid the facility’s azelea collection. The bald eagle parents chose the spot two years ago. They returned to the nest in October and began preparing it for the new arrivals in January, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The activities of the birds are being well-documented and a raptor biologist with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to climb into the nest this summer to place leg bands and collect blood samples from the baby bald eagles.
[Image via Shutterstock]