Bald eagle eggs expected to hatch soon in D.C.

WASHINGTON — Two bald eagle eggs in D.C. are expected to hatch soon, and you can watch along through live webcams.

Since 2014, two bald eagles that have since been named “Mr. President” and “The First Lady” have been nesting in a tree on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum.

This year, an egg was laid on Feb. 10, followed by another on Valentine’s Day.

It usually takes about 35 days for a bald eagle egg to hatch, so the first is expected to do so around March 15 or 16.

“Before an egg actually hatches, the eaglet breaks through an air sac inside the egg,” explains Al Cecere, founder and President of the American Eagle Foundation.

“Then the tip of its beak pokes a hole in the egg, and that’s called a pip. That’s the pipping stage. He’ll gradually work on that hole and keep breaking that hole bigger and bigger and bigger, until he’ll actually break out of the eggshell. So it could take a couple days for it to actually break out of the eggshell once it pips.”

This year, the foundation teamed up with the National Arboretum to set up two live-streaming high-definition video cameras right next to the pair’s nest.

The cameras are on around the clock, and lights illuminate the nest at night so you can keep right on watching.

As excitement for new eaglets grows, the foundation will be watching for changes in behavior by the eagle parents.

“Throughout the incubation period, they get up from time to time to turn their eggs so that all parts of the egg are being incubated with heat in more of an equal manner. So the eagles could, when they anticipate a pipping, they could get up and look at their egg. That would be a moment where our camera operators would zoom in on the pip and give the viewers an opportunity to see maybe the eaglet’s beak coming out of the egg,” says Cecere.

Bald eagles take turns incubating their eggs, and Cecere says they are amazingly dedicated parents.

“They will sit through hailstorms and snowstorms and take a brutal beating by hail on their back just to protect an egg or a baby.”

The foundation is encouraging people to use hashtag #dceaglecam on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to try to guess the exact day and time that the eggs will hatch.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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