National Arboretum bald eagles could get a ‘nestful’

Eagle-eyed fans may soon spot another egg in the nest of Mr. President and his new partner Lotus — the National Arboretum’s resident bald eagles. (Courtesy American Eagle Foundation)

Eagle-eyed fans may soon spot another egg in the nest of Mr. President and his new partner Lotus — the National Arboretum’s resident bald eagles.

Lotus, also known as V5, laid her first egg Thursday afternoon, and a second egg could be expected on or before Sunday, American Eagle Foundation Executive Director Jessica Hall said.

“Three’s possible; but at this point, I’m most excited to have one egg there,” said Dan Rauch, Fisheries and Wildlife biologist for the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment.

There has not been an egg in the nest since 2018, when First Lady, Mr. President’s former partner, laid her seventh egg. Where’s First Lady gone?

She was last spotted at the nest on Valentine’s Day 2021. The next day, a new female, V5 (i.e. the fifth bald eagle that visited the nest around that time) took up residence with Mr. President.

A year later, Lotus (Lady of the U.S.) or V5, laid her first egg.

Lotus, also known as V5, laid her first egg Thursday afternoon, and a second egg could be expected on or before Sunday, American Eagle Foundation Executive Director Jessica Hall said. (Courtesy American Eagle Foundation)

So when can eagle cam watchers spot the new eaglets?

“After an egg is laid, the incubation process takes about 35 days until we begin to see a pip or crack in the egg,” Hall said.

Rauch said there could be hatchlings appearing by late March.

“The cycle is amazingly fast for such a large bird. They’ll go from hatching to fledging in as little as 13 weeks,” he said.

You can watch it all unfold in the nest at the arboretum’s eagle cam.

It’s been eventful for D.C.-area bird-watchers during the last couple of years, from a family of red-shouldered hawks seen in Northwest, a majestic pink spoonbill spotted at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Northeast, and a snowy owl perched at Union Station.

Birders and naturalists have concerns about the health of food sources that raptors depend upon. The use of rodenticides, for example, can be deadly for owls and hawks.

Rauch said the eagles seem to be doing well, getting most of their food from the Anacostia River.

And they’re not above snagging someone else’s dinner for their own.

“About a month ago, I saw a peregrine falcon catch a ring-billed gull, and Mr. President, the male eagle, came in seconds later and took the gull away and flew right back up toward the nest,” Rauch said.

These city-slicker birds aren’t the only ones getting ready to have a family.

A pair of peregrine falcons are nesting at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia.

The park’s spokesperson Leah Taber said last year was the first time in 70 years that the small, speedy falcons had successfully fledged their young at the park.

Visitors will find a number of areas of the park closed off to give the falcons a comfort zone as they try to raise their family.

If you want to see these birds, bring binoculars because falcons are relatively small compared to bald eagles.

“We recommend the Point,  which is the area in our historic lower town where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers come together. And from there visitors can look toward Maryland Heights” to catch a glimpse of the falcons, Taber said.

The falcons are about the size of a crow, and they are incredibly fast, Taber said.

Young peregrine falcon in flight at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. (Courtesy NPS/Joe Kelley)

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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