In 2016, the D.C. Eagle Cam took the world by storm, generating more than 63 million views from over 100 countries during a five-month period. Nature and animal enthusiasts intently watched this patriotic eagle pair as they raised their second and third eaglets in their Tulip Poplar nest in the U.S. National Arboretum. These eaglets were initially known as DC2 & DC3 and were later dubbed Freedom and Liberty by the public. In 2015, before the DC Eagle Cam project came to be, the pair raised one eaglet (DC1).
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Since the nonprofit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) and USDA re-launched the DC Eagle Cam to the general public on New Year’s Eve, viewers have been patiently watching and waiting for the pair’s next set of eggs and eaglets.
Those who were watching the cams on February 19 around 6:24 p.m. EST were lucky enough to see The First Lady lay her first egg of the season. For all of those who missed it, they can watch the video HERE. Viewers should make sure to watch the cams over the next several days to catch the second, if she lays another (like last year).
Eagle pairs typically produce 1-3 eggs annually (usually laid and hatched a few days apart), but because this pair raised one eaglet during their first nesting season, and two eaglets their second season, there’s no telling what to expect this time around, especially since the nest has gotten larger.
Julia Cecere, a representative of the AEF states, “As long as this egg is viable, in about 35 days we will get to watch a grey fuzzy eaglet emerge from its shell. Over the next several days we’ll find out if this eaglet, which will be called DC4, will have any siblings as well.”
For all the viewers who became glued to the cams last year, what happens after the egg-laying is no surprise. From this point on, the pair will relentlessly incubate and protect any eggs from rain, snow, hail, thunderstorms, and predators. They will take turns throughout the day to let each other take breaks and hunt.
“It’s always fun to watch the behaviors of an eagle pair,” says Cecere. “Sometimes they almost appear to banter about who gets to watch over the eggs next. Of course, we have no clue what they’re saying to each other, but we can certainly have fun imagining!”
ABOUT THE D.C. EAGLE CAM PROJECT
In 2015, American Eagle Foundation (AEF) staff traveled to D.C. to install state-of-the-art cameras, infrared lighting, and other related equipment in-and-around the nest tree with the help of volunteers and experienced tree climbers. The USDA’s U.S. National Arboretum ran a half-mile of fiber optic cable to the cameras’ ground control station, which connects the cameras to the Internet. The entire system is powered by a large mobile solar array (containing several deep cycle batteries) that was designed and built by students and staff from Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology and was partially funded by the Department of Energy and Environment. USNA has implemented a backup generator that will kick-on if prolonged inclement weather causes the solar array to provide insufficient power to the system. In 2016, APEX Electric Inc. (Kenmore, Washington) traveled to D.C. to assist the AEF in successfully installing audio equipment in and around the tree. The AEF uses Piksel to stream the video images to viewers around the world, and AEF volunteers are trained and coordinated to pan, tilt and zoom the cams, as well as educate the public via LIVE chats while viewers watch the eagles via the cams on the Internet.