A second bald eagle egg has hatched in a nest at the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.
For now, the eaglet is being called DC7. It made its debut at 4:13 a.m. Thursday, according to officials with the American Eagle Foundation who help track the bald eagles at the property.
The other eaglet, DC6, hatched a few days ago in the same nest.
The eaglets’ parents, Mr. President and the First Lady, have kept a nest at the arboretum in a tulip poplar tree for several years. These are the sixth and seventh eaglets that have hatched there.
The bald eagles can be watched on a live camera at www.dceaglecam.org.
The hatching of the pair of eaglets was considered a victory after First Lady was later than normal in laying her eggs in the spring season.
Wildlife experts couldn’t figure out why First Lady was late but had a few theories, including that another female bald eagle kept hanging out around the nest, trying to get the attention of Mr. President.
“For a while, I had given up and didn’t think this was going to happen,” said Dan Rauch, the city’s wildlife biologist, who has tracked the pair of bald eagles. “To now have two chicks is great.”
The pair also had a few tense moments during the weekend as the DC6 eaglet started to hatch.
At one point, a raccoon that had previously tried to get into the nest showed up again, as did the other female eagle.
“The mystery, interloping eagle came and was sitting close on a limb in the tree,” Rauch said. He said First Lady was “not too pleased.”
Rauch said that the period when the eggs hatch is critical. If there was some kind of altercation near the nest, the egg could be knocked to the ground.
Also, eagles have razor-sharp talons, which can cause damage. In fact, Rauch said, adult eagles walk around almost on their knuckles in the nest so they don’t harm newly born eaglets.
First Lady, he said, was in a “defensive posture” for an hour, spreading her wings out and “puffing up” to make herself look larger and vocalizing to try to keep the other female eagle away from her nest. Eventually, he said, Mr. President came into the nest, and the two parents switched places — he got on the nest to incubate the eggs, and First Lady chased off the other female bird.
Wildlife experts warned that it is a bit late in the spring for eaglets to hatch, and with the recent warm temperatures, there is a slight danger.
“They can’t control their body temperatures yet,” Rauch said. “You can see the older eaglets panting like dogs. They are keeping cool.”
He said they learn to pant about two weeks after hatching. He said he’s hopeful that the mother eagle will continue to shade the young eaglets amid high temperatures.
Across town, another pair of bald eagle parents welcomed their eaglets earlier in the spring in a nest at the D.C. police training facility in Southwest Washington.
Rauch said those eaglets are doing well, and are where they should be in developing feathers. At this point, he said, the eagles go from a stage of being “very cute and fluffy” at birth to one that’s “not pretty” as their feathers come in. He compared it to an “awkward teenage stage.”
He said their talons are also coming in, and they’re a little wobbly as they get used to them. By nine or 10 weeks, he said, their talons are fully developed. For now, he said, they have to figure out their balance: “It’s like walking in clown shoes.”
By 13 weeks, he said, eaglets are fully grown, and “they’re ready to go and ready to fly.”
Bald eagles at one point were under the threat of extinction but have since made a comeback. In the D.C. region, wildlife experts said, a recent flyover in a helicopter found 21 active bald eagle nests in the spring between Mount Vernon and the Anacostia River. That’s up from 15 from last year in an area that typically has 13 such nests.
Having so many healthy eagle nests in the region is a sign, experts said, that the eagles’ habitats have improved, such as work to clean up area rivers so they can have nests near them.
“The resiliency of these birds to come back to this area and thrive is incredible,” Rauch said.