Well, we think we have some good news on the camera front. Our cam technician and ranger spent a good bit of time Saturday inspecting and replacing the last possible pieces that they could think of that might be malfunctioning and causing the darkness on the cam, and it looks like they were able to fix it. Keep your fingers crossed that this was the solution, and that it means there is nothing wrong with the camera at the nest.
As you likely noticed, we’ve also zoomed in our pan-tilt-zoom camera so that we have a front-row seat for the hatching, which could start sometime from Wednesday through Saturday. If you’re new to this process, the way it will work is that the chick will begin moving and eventually vocalizing from within the egg before it hatches. The parent will know before we do that something is happening, and we’ll be looking for signs of the parent getting up a lot and looking at the eggs. Another sign that hatching is starting is if the male eagle suddenly brings a meal and leaves it on the nest.
Eventually the eaglet will pip a small hole in the egg (using its egg tooth, which will fall off after hatching) and then slowly turn inside the egg and peck until it has created a crack that is big enough that the eaglet can push its way out of the shell. This is a very slow process (maybe 24 hours or more), since the eaglet will take a lot of breaks to rest.
Once the eaglet has hatched, it will be wet and tired, but it will quickly dry off and maybe even try to stand up for a meal, although the eaglet doesn’t have to eat right away — the chick absorbs what remains of the yolk before hatching and doesn’t need to be fed immediately.
The first eaglet out has a big advantage because bald eagles are the fastest growing birds in North America, and the first chick to hatch will be big enough to establish itself as the dominant chick and will have the advantage of being at the top of the pecking order. The sooner that the second and third eaglets can hatch after the first, the better for those chicks.
In the last two seasons, our female has not had good luck with her third egg, with one hatching late and the chick later dying, and then one never hatching at all. So we’re hoping that this year the trend is different and that the third egg will produce a healthy chick.
Before we finish this entry, we wanted to share a short video showing some winter scenes from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. If you haven’t been able to visit this winter or if you wonder what the eagles are seeing when they fly around the Refuge, this will give you a taste. The final shot of the eagle on the Osprey Cam nest is possibly one of the parents from our Eagle Cam.