National Arboretum bald eagles may have hatched (Photos)

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The National Arboretum says that toward the end of the month, the eagles’ behavior changed — one would remain on the nest at all times while one went in search of food. That behavior indicates nesting. (Provided by Daniel Rauch, District Department of the Environment)

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“This is amazing, any time you see a nesting pair of eagles it’s fantastic,” says Daniel Rauch, Fish and Wildlife Biologist with District Department of the Environment. “It says a lot about the health of the river, both the Anacostia and the Potomac.” Rauch is at Kingsman Lake where the birds often collect fish. The nest location on Mount Hamilton is behind Rauch’s right shoulder. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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A 660-foot quiet zone will limit access to a portion of the National Arboretum through about mid-June to prevent the nesting pair from abandoning the nest, eggs and anticipated chicks. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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The eagle nest’s protective quiet zone will restrict vehicular access to a large portion of the Arboretum’s iconic Azalea Collection visited by thousands of people each spring. Most of the Azalea Collection will stay open to people on foot. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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The nest tree is on Mount Hamilton on the National Arboretum grounds which is 240 feet above sea level and one of the highest points in the district. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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National Aboretum anxious to know if eaglets have hatched (Mike Murillo, WTOP)

WASHINGTON — Through snow, rain, wind and cold, two bald eagles have kept watch over their nest at the National Arboretum. Now the hard work of two very attentive parents may have paid off.

“[The eggs] are well beyond the hatch date for what the earliest hatch date would be,” said Dan Rauch a fishery and wildlife biologist with the District Department of the Environment.

He said the nest was spotted in January, which means if the eggs are going to hatch, they would have done so already.

Rauch has been keeping a close eye on the first bald eagles to nest in the National Arboretum in about 70 years. Rauch says there are promising signs from what he saw this week from the mother eagle.

“She stood up and stretched, and gingerly tiptoed around the nest — looked like she might be trying to avoid something,” he says.

eagle nest
“This is amazing, any time you see a nesting pair of eagles it’s fantastic,” says Daniel Rauch, Fish and Wildlife Biologist with District Department of the Environment. “It says a lot about the health of the river, both the Anacostia and the Potomac.” Rauch is at Kingsman Lake where the birds often collect fish. The nest location on Mount Hamilton is behind Rauch’s right shoulder. (WTOP/Kristi King)

That something could be eaglets. Another sign is that both eagles are spending more time around the nest, he adds.

Right now, the father eagle would be doing much of the heavy lifting, and Rauch says he hopes to see dad bring fish to feed the eaglets in the coming days.

“That would be great behavior to observe, we just haven’t seen that yet,” he says.

Since there isn’t a webcam on the nest, Rauch says he can’t tell for sure if the eggs have hatched. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife team will fly over the area next week and hopefully catch a glimpse of the chicks.

In a couple of weeks, people on the ground should be able to see the eaglets stretching and poking their heads up. By the end of June, Rauch said we could see the young eagles flying around the arboretum.

This could be the beginning of an era for the District. Before a decadeslong drought of eagles nest activity, the last sustained nest site location was on the grounds of the National Arboretum as late as 1947.

If the birds are successful here Rauch said, they could stick around and have more babies over the next 15 to 20 years.

And joining the ranks of the Sistine Seagul, Bronx Zoo Cobra and the National Zoo’s Bao Bao, the eaglets now have their own twitter account @dceaglets, so you can follow their progress.

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