Eagle experts say they won’t intervene by removing two recently laid eggs from the nest because the eggs aren’t going to hatch.
“They’re not viable,” said Tommy Lawrence, managing director at the Earth Conservation Corps, which monitors the eagles with the help of a live video stream at eaglecam.org. “We’re not going to get any eaglets this year.”
In the latest twist, Liberty was last seen Thursday night sitting near the nest but not in it or on the eggs. She was with another eagle that couldn’t be identified because it was blocking part of the camera. Lawrence said Liberty was perched on a branch next to the nest all night long.
“It was like she was grieving,” he said.
There were no signs of Liberty beginning Friday morning, and without incubation, experts said the two eggs won’t hatch because they must be kept warm. She laid the eggs earlier this month, and they were expected to hatch in mid-March.
Justice hasn’t been seen since he and Liberty mated more than two weeks ago. After that, two other male eagles — dubbed M1, or Aaron Burrd, and another called M2 — showed up at the nest trying to court Liberty. She mated with M2 but hasn’t shown signs of laying eggs.
On Sunday, chatter among eagle experts and camera watchers indicated that another eagle couple was spotted. The nest sits in the crux of an oak tree and measures about six feet deep and five feet in diameter.
“The outcome right now is if Liberty is gone from the area due to the stress, then a new couple could overtake the nest and claim it,” Lawrence said.
He said the newest couple looked as if they were interested in the location, adding that if "drama slows down at the nest and another couple comes in that’s ready to mate, we could see eggs laid.” Eagles in the D.C. region typically lay eggs from late January through mid-March.
At another often-watched eagle nest in Northeast Washington at the U.S. National Arboretum, another pair of bald eagles — Mr. President and the First Lady — have yet to lay eggs this year.
Back at the police academy nest, a new bald eagle couple could either push the eggs from Liberty and Justice out of the nest or simply bury them with new straw and make a new nest for themselves, according to eagle experts.
Lawrence said it’s possible that Liberty could come back, but she’s more than likely off “enjoying some free time” and feeding. Typically, eagles are more connected to their nests than they are to their mates, so she could also be building another nest somewhere, Lawrence said. One spot she might hit is an abandoned nest more than a mile away on the St. Elizabeths hospital grounds.
All of this, Lawrence said, is typical eagle behavior, even if other eagles don’t live their lives in front of a webcam.
As for Justice, eagle experts said he likely either has been chased off the nest or is possibly dead at this point. Typically, disputes among eagles happen when more eagles populate an area. After years of trying to get bald eagles to return to the Chesapeake Bay region, it is likely that’s what’s happening here, experts said.
So while it doesn’t sound like “good news” for one eagle, Justice, it is a good, healthy sign that the D.C. region has a large and growing eagle population.
On Monday evening, the drama at the nest took another turn. Liberty returned, this time with M2, one of her male suitors, eagle experts said. Some eagle watchers have now renamed M2, “Captain America.”