WASHINGTON —There is now a full family inside the Bald Eagle nest perched atop a tulip poplar tree inside the National Arboretum.
The second eaglet hatched at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday according to Julia Cecere, a spokesperson for the American Eagle Foundation, which immediately posted a new video of the new family — dad, mom and the two eaglets.
The parents — “Mr. President” and “The First Lady” — have been nesting in a tree at the U.S. National Arboretum since 2014. This year, one egg was laid Feb. 10; a second, on Valentine’s Day.
According to Cecere, the newborn eaglets have unsteady legs and heads, won’t be able to fully generate their own body heat for the first several days, and will be extremely dependent on their parents for safety, food, and warmth.
The parents were bringing fish from the Anacostia River to the nest over the weekend.
The first of the two baby bald eagles emerged from its shell on Friday as millions watched on the the D.C. Bald Eagle Nest Cam set up by the American Eagle Foundation. At 8:27 a.m., the baby eagle shed its original home and was occasionally visible on the eagle cam before being covered by one of its parents.
The hatching process began Wednesday night.
“There are 23 or 24,000 people watching right now,” Cecere said. “Overall, it’s probably close to two million now.”
In short order, the eaglets will be very vocal when they want to eat.
“It won’t be very long until the eaglet will be standing up, erect, with its head up, and whenever it’s hungry it’ll be squeaking away and begging for food,” says Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation.
The eaglets will be ready to fledge — develop the feathers needed to fly — at approximately 12 to 13 weeks, he adds.
“We’re hoping that they’ll survive, but with nature you never know,” he warned. “A raccoon could do some damage, but if a red tail hawk flies onto the nest [the parents will] go after it and tear it to pieces if it gets near one of their babies.”
“There’s about a 50-50 percent chance — the same in all wild nests,” says Al Cecere. “Less than 50 percent survive the first year, but once they survive the first year, their chances go up because they’ve learned to survive on their own.”
Living in the nation’s capital, or any major city, the young eagles chances of survival will depend on their ability to adapt to human-made dangers, including power lines, traps and poison.
“They’re genetically engineered to catch a fish,” says Al Cecere. “They have to learn some things the hard way.”
WTOP’s Meg Hasken, Michelle Basch and Ginger Whitaker contributed to this report.
Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.