Pass the cigars!
A female bald eagle named First Lady has laid an egg in a nest at the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.
Her mate, known as Mr. President, shared the news on social media.
It came after weeks of waiting for an egg. It was laid about 4:30 p.m. Sunday in a tall tulip poplar tree at the large property off New York Avenue NE.
Last year, Mr. President and the First Lady successfully raised two eaglets.
But this year, wildlife biologists were a bit concerned when mama eagle was late in laying eggs and no one was sure why. Experts noticed that each year, First Lady is about nine days later than the previous year, something they attribute to her hormones. Typically, female bald eagles in this region lay eggs sometime between January and March.
Another theory involved another female bald eagle, which social media followers nicknamed Storky Daniels, which was trying to get into the nest with Mr. President. He rebuffed her moves, and eventually Storky left. She hadn’t been seen since the middle of last week at the arboretum nest.
“We had almost given up” on First Lady, said D.C. wildlife biologist Dan Rauch. He said she was starting to get out of the time window of laying eggs by late March in the Chesapeake Bay area.
“We were surprised,” Rauch said. “I’m amazed. I was afraid this nest was going to fail.”
The eagles can be watched on a live Web camera at https://dceaglecam.org/. The camera is run by the American Eagle Foundation.
The moment the egg was seen in the nest was caught on live video.
The bald eagles will take turns in the incubation of the egg. And wildlife biology experts expect that a second egg will be laid within the next few days, as female eagles typically lay one to three eggs at a time.
Then it’s time to wait and incubate. It takes about 35 days of incubation for an egg to hatch.
Al Cecere, president of the American Eagle Foundation, said, “It’s always endearing and exciting to watch the behaviors of an eagle pair. Sometimes they almost appear to banter about who gets to watch over the eggs or chicks next.”
Across town, another pair of bald eagles — known as Liberty and Justice — had two eggs recently hatch on the grounds of the D.C. police training academy in Southwest Washington. They can be seen on a video stream at www.EagleCam.org.
Bald eagles have made a comeback after being under the threat of extinction.
In the Washington area, wildlife experts said they did a recent flyover in a helicopter and found that between Mount Vernon and the Anacostia River there are 21 active bald eagle nests this spring. That’s up from 15 last year, while typically the region has 13 nests.
“To have 21 is pretty amazing,” Rauch said. “That means there is still room in our urban area for bald eagles to keep coming in.”