Third eagle egg!

Several alert readers have reported that the female eagle at the live EagleCam has laid a third egg.  It’s been hard to verify since the eagles are sitting on the nest continuously, and it’s been snowing, too.  But here’s the proof:

The site relates that the eggs were laid almost exactly three days apart:

  • First egg laid February 3, 2011 at 2:49 p.m.
  • Second egg laid February 6, 2011 at 4:25 p.m.
  • Third egg laid February 9, 2011 at 5:55 p.m. (first sighting of egg 8:46 a.m., February 11, 2011)

Now one reader has predicted darkly that at least one eaglet won’t survive; and indeed, that’s the usual result when three eggs are laid. But these birds are diligent, and in each of the last two years they’ve laid three eggs and fledged all three chicks.  The pair has been nesting in the Norfolk Botanical Garden since 2004, and have fledged a total of 15 chicks. Now that’s fitness!

Besides the opportunity to get a rare and intimate view of reproduction in this amazing bird, one of the attractions of EagleCam for me is the incongruity of a noble, serious, and almost angry-looking raptor tending its young with infinite solicitude.  It was sad but touching to watch the mother sitting on the eggs while it was snowing, occasionally shaking the snow from her feathers but never budging from the eggs.

If you’re following these birds, be glad that (knock on wood) we’ll have interesting things to see until the young fledge in August.

How long do bald eagles live? One informative site says that the lifespan is roughly 15 to 20 years in the wild, although one bird lived at least 48 years in captivity.

15 thoughts on “Third eagle egg!

  1. Hey yall, what is a good resource on the origin of sex, and sexual reproduction? I am not very savvy on evolution currently, but as far as I understood it, evolution functions primarily at the level of the individual organism not a the group level. So how does reproduction fit into that, and how do differing sexes fit into that? If there is a resource you could recommend what might it be?

    ( I posted this before, but it was on an old post where no one was watching anymore, so I am reposting here, hope that’s ok)

    1. IANA… er.. B (Biologist) but I just happened to be reading Dawkins’s comments on Midgley where he refers to “John Maynard Smith’s rightly praised The Evolution of Sex (Cambridge University Press, 1978)”

      A book that Dawkins describes as rightly praised must be worth a go.

    2. There’s ‘The Red Queen’ by Matt Ridley. It’s very well written and entertaining as well as informative. It’s available on Kindle too.

    3. I’ll second Marella’s recommendation of Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen–an excellent overview and very accessible to the lay reader. (I wish I had John Maynard Smith’s book, though)…

      And Shortearedowl–I’ll be popping over to your site if you’re posting on the evolution of sex! Thanks for telling us!

  2. 3 eggs, unless eagles can make snowballs…

    So, with a 35 day gestation, they will hatch 3 days apart, starting in about a month, right?

  3. Well my dark prediction was made in ignorance of this pair’s impressive record, and I’m happy to withdraw it.

    Who’s a clever eagle then?! Who’s showing the other eagles how it’s done?

    1. It means (according to the WebCam moderators) that she’s getting plenty of nutrition, or she wouldn’t be able to lay that many eggs. Location, location, location 😉

      1. And I presume a relative isolation from DDT. Small chance for a clutch of healthy three out in the wild forty years ago.

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