Written By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation
One of the most dramatic moments of an eagle nesting season is when a chick emerges from its shell.
Since incubation takes roughly 35 days or so and the first egg arrived on Feb. 18, the first chick could hatch as early as today (Wednesday) — although tomorrow (Thursday) or beyond is a bit more likely.
This year, for the first time, you’ll be able to watch the hatch in high definition on the Eagle Cam.
To see a photo sequence of one of last year’s eggs hatching, click here.
Here’s how Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, described the egg-hatching process for the blog last year:
Eggs will hatch in the order that they were laid. The hatching process, can take 24 hours or more.
The eaglets use their egg tooth (a pointed bump on the top of the beak) to break (called pipping) through the outer shell.
This first hole is called a pip.
The eaglet then continues to peck at the shell until it has a hole in the shell large enough to break though and free itself.
The egg tooth will fall off a few days after hatching.
Before the first pip, the eaglet will become active in the egg.
It’ll break through the inner membrane and for the first time breath in air.
The eaglet then starts to work on making the pip in the egg shell. I have read that the eaglets can start chirping at this point.
The adults will know that the hatching process has begun.
A good way to tell if the egg is hatching is to watch the parent’s behavior.
They will be off the eggs more and looking down at the eggs more than normal.
Cam viewers might be able to catch the hatching process depending on when the adults are off the eggs and if they aren’t blocking the view of the egg.
While the first egg is in the hatching process, they’ll still be incubating the second egg.
Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher” column for The Record. He is the author of four photography-driven books about natural areas, including the New Jersey Meadowlands and Pennsylvania’s Hawk Mountain.
Eagle questions? E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some may be used in future posts.