Experts said there will probably be no baby bald eagles coming this year from two closely watched nests in the District as the birds’ short breeding season is coming to an end.
At the nest in a tree at the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington, the female bald eagle — the First Lady — hasn’t laid any eggs. Her partner is named Mr. President.
And at another nest in Southwest Washington on the grounds of the D.C. Police Academy, there are no eggs in the nest of Liberty and Justice, another pair of bald eagles.
Both sets of eagles have become well-known in Washington due in large part to eagle cameras. Mr. President and the First Lady can be seen at naeaglecam.org, and Liberty and Justice can be seen at www.eaglecam.org.
Dan Rauch, the city’s wildlife biologist, said it looks like both of the nests have “failed this year.” Rauch said it’s the District’s first year without any eagle hatchings in 20 years. There had been a long dearth of eagle hatchings even before that, but major conservation efforts were undertaken to bring the birds back.
“This is not a good thing,” Rauch said of the eagles not laying eggs this year. He said experts will watch it to make sure it’s “not a downward trend.”
“Hopefully they’ll bounce back.”
Laying eagle eggs is no easy task, given that female bald eagles are only fertile for a two-week window, experts said.
On the Twitter account of Mr. P & the First Lady, there’s been plenty of talk about the lack of eggs.
One post reads: “When all else fails, call in a stunt double for an eagle egg.”
At the police academy, Liberty and Justice have had a spring filled with drama.
The pair had taken a break after they mated in mid-February and Liberty laid two eggs in the nest where they’ve lived for 14 years. But then Justice left the nest and was missing for several weeks.
Then Liberty took off for a bit and there were a few other suitors on the scene. The eggs didn’t make it — at one point, a raccoon bit into at least one of them.
Liberty and Justice have hatched about 22 eaglets from their nest in a 110-foot-tall oak tree.
Tommy Lawrence, managing director at the Earth Conservation Corps., which closely watches Liberty and Justice, said the pair have been doing some restoration work to their nest, but other eagles have been coming in at times.
“It’s been a stressful year for them,” he said of the pair. He said he’s not expecting any eagle eggs to be laid.
“It doesn’t seem like we’ll have any eggs in D.C. this year,” Lawrence said. “It’s disappointing because we always like to see eaglets come. But one good sign is that we’ve seen additional eagles coming into the area and that means the eagle population is rebounding.”