hatching

A One-Chick Nest

One chick in the 2015 nest

One chick in the 2015 nest

Just when we think we know what will happen on our Eagle Cam nest, we get a surprise. During the 11 years that we’ve been broadcasting from this nest, we’ve always had at least two eaglets in residence in a given season, but this year it looks like we’ll have just one.

Because we’re having issues with the camera in the tree (and we can’t fix it while the chick is small and needs protection from its parent), we have to make an educated guess as to when the hatching happened. Based on our observations and what we were hearing from cam watchers, as well as volunteers at the Refuge, here is our scorecard.

  • 1st egg laid: 1/7
    Hatch: 2/15
  • 2nd egg laid: 1/10
    Hatch: 2/17 2/19 (died around 2/23)
  • 3rd egg laid: 1/13
    No hatch

Our third egg is very late and we don’t expect it to hatch. Even if it did, the chick would be so far behind the older chick, that the younger chick would probably have a hard time getting much during meal time, so it’s probably best that it not hatch now.

As for the second chick, he seemed to be doing well, and there was plenty of food, so we don’t know if the chick had health issues or maybe it was an issue with the cold, but he didn’t last long after hatching.

Rabbit in eagle nest

Rabbit in eagle nest

The remaining chick seems very active and is already visibly growing, and there has been plenty of food in the nest to feed it, despite the bad weather. We’ve seen multiple fish in the nest at one time, in addition to a duck or two, and a rabbit, which you can see in this photo.

So the good news is we have a chick to watch grow up and eventually fledge. And assuming our chick is healthy, he should have a good life in the nest, since the parents are excellent providers.

We’ll update the Gallery soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to see some of the photos that were shared from the nest over the last week, be sure to check out our Facebook page. And thanks to all those who sent in images while we were trying to determine if the hatching was really happening.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eaglet, eggs, hatching | 2 Comments

Preparing for Hatching

Three Eggs Up Close

Three Eggs Up Close

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.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: blackwater nwr, eagle cam, eggs, hatching | Leave a comment

First Eaglet

We wanted to offer a recap of our first hatching, which happened early on Saturday morning. We were expecting our first egg to hatch before this, but it’s possible our chicks might be arriving a bit late this year, since even the second chick is a bit behind schedule.

On Friday evening, we saw a small hole in one egg, which was the first noticeable pip by the chick. Also on Friday, our male brought a fish, which is usually a good sign that he thinks a chick is coming. And then about 6:40am on Saturday, cam watchers saw what looked like something moving in the glare from the infrared on the cam.

first eaglet hatching

As for our first eaglet, it looks healthy and strong. It was sitting up and eating about six hours after hatching, which was good to see. We also had a bit of excitement when not long after the chick hatched, the parent on the nest suddenly went into a defensive posture. We contacted the Refuge staff to see if they could tell what the problem was, and our ranger confirmed that some vultures were flying over the tree. Once the vultures left, our parent settled down.

eaglet's first meal

During the intruder alert, we might have had the VCR running at the Visitor Center, capturing the live video feed. If we did, we’ll look to see if we captured the parent’s actions on tape, and we’ll try to share it.

Speaking of video, one of our cam watchers was kind enough to put together an animated image sequence of our eaglet’s first meal, which we’re sharing here.

As for the second chick, on Saturday we thought we saw a small mark on at least one of the other eggs, so hopefully we’ll have a second chick soon.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: eagle cam, eaglet, eggs, hatching | Leave a comment

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