It’s hatched! A baby bald eagle was born at 8:27 a.m. Eastern time Friday at the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.
The American Eagle Foundation said “it is confirmed the eaglet is out and alive.” A second eaglet is likely to hatch over the weekend. The Bald Eagle Nest Cam can be seen at eagles.org or dceaglecam.org.
Around lunchtime Friday, the District’s wildlife biologist Dan Rauch said it looked like the eaglet was strong and was “being fed already.”
“All signs are very encouraging,” he said.
Around 8:15 a.m. Friday, it appeared that an eye of the baby eagle was showing out of the egg. The American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which has been tracking the hatching, wrote early Friday morning on its Facebook page: “A lot of grey downy feathers are now visible, so it must be making a lot of progress!”
Julia Cecere, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said early Friday, “It looks promising for getting out of the shell within a reasonable amount of time.” She said she had been up several times during the night to watch the cameras.
Just before 9 a.m., the District’s Department of Energy and Environment said the eaglet had “emerged completely from its shell.”
“This is an awesome chance to view nature as it happens,” Rauch said. “We’ll be able to follow the eagles from their first emergence to their first flight. This is real reality TV.”
There are two eggs in the nest — one was laid Feb. 10 and another on Valentine’s Day in a nest high up in a tulip poplar tree at the arboretum in the popular azalea area of the 400-acre property off New York Avenue NE.
Wednesday marked the 35-day mark for the first egg’s incubation period, so experts at the American Eagle Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been closely tracking and watching the pair’s movements using a live streaming system for the past few weeks as hatch time nears. The parents have been nicknamed — “Mr. President” and “The First Lady.” They take turns keeping the eggs warm.
On Wednesday there was a photo from the cameras that showed a slight beak near the edge of the egg.
“We were right on the money,” said Julia Cecere, a spokeswoman for the American Eagle Foundation, in terms of the first egg hitting its 35-day incubation period. “We weren’t sure at first. … The picture was not clear. We were wondering is it a pip or not?”
A pip is considered to be a crack in the egg’s shell and shows up as the eaglet begins to emerge. Experts said it could take between 12 and 48 hours for an eaglet to completely emerge from the shell.
Cecere said the first crack was at the top of the egg. But by 10 p.m., it became more clear as one of the eagles got off the egg and they could see a clearer crack from the live camera.
In a Facebook post, the eagle foundation said late Wednesday night that “the pipping process has begun on the DC Eagle Cam!”
On Thursday, the foundation sent out more pictures and updates throughout the day. Thursday night, the adult birds could be seen standing, rolling the eggs and appear to straighten the nest.
In a statement, Al Cecere — the American Eagle Foundation’s president, who is also Julia Cecere’ father — said Thursday, “This is a very special time in the nest.”
Al Cecere, who was in the music-production business, created the foundation in 1985 and has received support from such stars as country music singer Dolly Parton.
“To witness the up-close process of an eaglet breaking through its shell and being fed by its parents for the first time is wonderfully heartwarming,” he said in the statement.
For now, the first one will tentatively be called “DC2.” And the sibling will be called “DC3.”
The public will have a chance to come up with official names for the eaglets, the foundation said.
The hatching was trending on Facebook, and the eagle foundation said it hit 100,000 likes, along with plenty of comments from viewers around the world who were watching the eaglet’s hatching and sharing on social media. When one of the birds left the nest to get fish, viewers took screen shots and commented. And they noted when flies seemed to be bothering the parents as they took turns, sitting on the nest to keep the eggs warm.
Facebook user Catherine Montalbo wrote, “I’m obsessed with the Eagle Cam!!” Raisa Harkema said, “Wow! It’s amazing to see this from the other side of the world! (Holland). And Tina Camporeale said, “Forget about Trump, start watching this, it’s much more interesting.”