New York, February 15, 2016: Eagle nest cams have become a nationwide sensation over the past several years, providing biologists with new insight into eagle nesting behavior and giving the viewing public a new source of inspirational online entertainment. The non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF), in cooperation with the USDA’s United States National Arboretum (USNA) went on to announce an eagle nest cam viewing experience.
Viewers from all over the world can now watch the wild nest of “Mr. President” and “The First Lady,” a pair of Bald Eagles nesting in the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.
All winter long, these eagles have been tirelessly performing “nestorations,” fortifying their nest with sticks and making it comfortable for raising a family. Their hard work finally paid off on February 10th when The First Lady laid their first egg. A second egg came shortly after on Valentine’s Day! Both eggs are expected to hatch mid-March after 35 days of incubation by both parents.
In October 2014, this bonded pair of eagles chose a prime location for their nest: a tall Tulip Poplar tree amongst the National Arboretum’s blooming Azalea collection overlooking the fish-filled Anacostia River. They are the first Bald Eagle pair that has nested in this location since 1947. Had they chosen a tree just a little further up Mount Hamilton, the U.S. Capitol Building would be in their direct line of sight. These birds successfully raised one healthy eaglet during the spring/summer of 2015.
Last year, after an educational visit to Capitol Hill, the American Eagle Foundation and their celebrity non-releasable Bald Eagle Challenger had the privilege of visiting the Arboretum, where they first learned about this idyllic nest site. Soon afterwards, the AEF and USNA entered into a partnership to place two HD video cameras at the top of the nest tree with direct views into the nest.
After the eagle pair left their nest site in August 2015 for their annual migration, Al Cecere, Julia Cecere, andSpencer Williams of the AEF traveled to D.C. to install cameras and other related equipment in-and-around the nest tree with the help of experienced tree climbers. The USNA ran about a half-mile of fiber optic cable to the cameras’ control box located about 200 feet from the base of the tree. The entire system is powered by a large solar array designed and built by students and staff from Alfred State College, School of Applied Technologies.
“Bald Eagles don’t always return to their first year nests. It was a little risky investing in this project without any certainty that the eagles would return for a second season,” says AEF’s Publicity Coordinator Julia Cecere. “It was a happy day for everyone when both eagles were spotted back on the nest this past October.”
USNA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Scientists Ramon Jordan and Sue Greeley have been keeping a close eye on the eagles ever since they chose the Arboretum as their home in 2014. Dan Rauch with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) has been documenting the activities of the eagles since then as well. Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) volunteers have also been involved in monitoring the nest in the past.
Staff from USNA engaged in early consultation with Craig Koppie at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Chesapeake Bay Field Office to avoid disturbance and minimize potential impacts to the new eagle pair. This spring, the University of Maryland in collaboration with the National Park Service, USFWS, and DDOE will be conducting an assessment of environmental contaminants at eagle nests. Blood samples will be taken from eaglets at nest sites in Washington, D.C., including the National Arboretum location. Additionally, each eaglet will be marked with leg bands for identification.