Now that we’ve been watching the eagles incubate the eggs for over a month, we’re getting ready for the eggs to hatch. As we discussed earlier, the first signs of hatching will be the females eagle’s behavior. As the eaglet begins to ‘pip’, or scratch at the inside of the shell with it’s ‘egg tooth’, the female eagle will be more vigilant and seemingly aware of something happening underneath her. It can take twelve to fifty hours from the first break in the shell for the eaglet to hatch completely.
As hatching approaches, we might also begin to notice the male eagle bringing back more food to the nest. Often eagle parents will stockpile food in and around the nest to prepare for the hatching youngsters. The parent eagles want to be prepared for the newly hatched eaglets who will be hungry!
In this area, we typically see eaglets hatching sometime in April. Incubation is about 35 days, and most eagles are laying eggs sometime in March. Three of the eagle ambassadors here at the National Eagle Center are from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Although we don’t know their exact ‘hatch day’ we celebrate all the National Eagle Center’s eagles’ hatch day on Earth Day, April 22nd. This year, Harriet will be 31 years old!
Newly hatched eaglets have grayish-white down that covers their small bodies. At this stage, they have small wobbly legs that are too weak to hold their weight. The eyes are partially closed with little vision particularly compared to what their eyesight will be like as an adult. The chicks are extremely vulnerable and will rely on round the clock care from their parents. Early on, the female will be doing most of the care at the nest while the male provides most of the food for the rapidly growing family.