It appears white and oval-shaped, and lies cupped in a bowl-shaped structure built of twigs. Over it stands a feathered creature with a fierce eye and fearsome beak.
It showed up on Sunday, at 6:24 p.m., and it is said to be the first egg laid this year by the eagle who has delighted millions by producing eggs in each of the past two years in a nest in the Washington Arboretum.
A member of the species that is a symbol of the United States, the female bald eagle has been dubbed the First Lady. As could be guessed, its mate is called Mr. President. Both have become known throughout Washington, all over the United States, and far beyond.
Over five months of intense fascination with the two eagles and their activities they were looked in on more than 63 million times by viewers in more than 100 countries, the American Eagle Foundation said. The foundation described itself as is a nonprofit devoted to protection and preservation of the bald eagle.
In what can only be described as one of the most appropriate of coincidences, the first egg of the season for the pair appeared in the nation’s capital during Presidents’ Day weekend, a time of patriotic recollection and observance.
In their domestic activities, high in a tulip poplar in the arboretum in Northeast Washington, the pair come under the ever vigilant eye of the Eagle Cam, a video device operated by the eagle foundation.
Footage taken early Monday, on the morning of Presidents’ Day itself, showed what appeared to be an exercise in eagle co-parenting.
At first, the female eagle seems alone with the egg in the nest.
Then in a flap of powerful wings, Mr. President descends upon the nest.
The two of them seem to put their beaks together for a bit. Soon after, it is only Mr. President who is seen in the nest with the egg. A printed commentary reported that the First Lady has perched off camera.
The arboretum pair are not the only eagles whose doings are under video surveillance in the District. Two eggs have already appeared this year in a nest in a tree at a D.C. police facility. The elder eagles involved also bear patriotic names: Liberty and Justice.
A third nest that is also closely watched is at the Department of Homeland Security campus in Southeast Washington.
It is something of a risk to watch the video from its Eagle Cam, the eagle foundation said on its website.
It expressed the hope that all eagles hatched in the nest would hatch successfully each season and go on to fledge, or make a first flight from the nest.
But it noted the hazards of raising an eagle family.
These include sibling rivalry, predators and natural disasters, the foundation said.
The arboretum eagles raised an eaglet in 2015 before camera installation, the foundation said. In 2016 two eggs were laid, both a little earlier in February. Both hatched and both fledged.
The current egg is at least the fourth for the productive pair.
Once under threat of extinction, the bald eagle has been enabled to make what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called a remarkable recovery. The service credited protections provided to the birds. They were removed from the endangered list almost 10 years ago.
In addition to beak and talons, the eagles remain under the protections of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as the Bald and Golden Eagle Act, the service said.