Have you ever seen a bald eagle give birth? Have you had a chance to witness an eaglet hatch?
Chances are that a vast number of people cannot answer “yes” to either of those questions. Perhaps that is why a certain live stream on YouTube of bald eagles in Southwest Florida is getting a lot of attention.
The live stream eagle footage, which is hosted by Dick Pritchett Real Estate, features bald eagles Harriet and MI5 taking turns sitting in a nest as they patiently waiting for the arrival of their two young eaglets.
— James Lucas Ⓥ (@JamesELucas) December 28, 2016
According to the Dick Pritchett Real Estate website, there are three separate camera angles being used to film the eagles throughout the duration of the live stream. While the close-up footage may seem to place the cameras in close proximity of the actual nest, none of the cameras can be seen or heard by the eagles.
“Eagles are wild birds and anything can happen in the wild. The Southwest Florida Eagle Camera (SWFEC) does not interfere or intervene and allows nature to take its course. You will see life and you might see death, but this is nature at her finest.”
This is apparently not the first time that Harriet went viral with footage of this type of in-nest hatching experience. She reportedly went viral more than four years ago in October of 2012 when millions of people watched her raise two eaglets with her then-partner Ozzie.
Ozzie and Harriet — a couple who was likely named after the popular 1950s ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet — hatched another pair of eaglets. Unfortunately, one of those eaglets passed away at the age of 41-days-old. Sadly, Ozzie and Harriet suffered a similar tragedy in 2014 when one of their two newest eaglets died nearly one month after first hatching.
— Naples Daily News (@ndn) October 1, 2016
After sustaining severe injuries during a flight, Ozzie passed away himself in 2015. However, Harriet found love again when she met M15, and the “lovebirds” welcomed their first pair of eaglets together this past January.
Maintaining an average of two eaglets per clutch is accurate for bald eagles, according to the Hancock Wildlife Foundation. Each of the two eggs is laid nearly three days apart. In the case of M15 and Harriet, the two eggs featured in the current “eagle cam” live stream were laid right on schedule – November 22 and 25, respectively.
Once the eagles start sitting on the egg to raise its temperature, the incubation period (which typically lasts 35 days) begins. Since the incubation period lines up with the timeline in which the eggs were first laid, this means that the eaglets usually hatch three days apart as well. As seen with M15 and Harriet, both of the eagles share the responsibility of incubating their eggs. However, studies have shown that the mother eagle usually takes the longer overnight shifts and during inclement weather.
The fish-eagle is probably the most familiar bird of prey in Africa females lay 1-3 eggs incubation approx 44 days pic.twitter.com/1MiTMZIyXg
— africanwildlife (@awpfnow) June 14, 2016
Throughout the incubation period, the eggs are typically rolled over every one to two hours. This is done to make sure the lighter yolk never raises to the egg surface. If the eaglet’s fragile blood vessels make contact with and stick to the surface of the egg shell, this could potentially kill the baby eagle before he or she ever hatches.
As of 12:55 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, the eagle cam live stream has been viewed over 57.2 million times, with more than 24,900 people actively watching it.
Now, it is just a matter of time before these amazing bald eagles, M15 and Harriet, become parents all over again. Thanks to YouTube, millions of people have a chance to experience a very rare eyewitness opportunity!
[Featured Image by Tom Gannam/AP Images]