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2019 Season Recap
Following the 2017-2018 nesting season, it appeared that Mr. President once again stayed in the D.C. area, being seen at the nest Aug. 21 and Sept. 10, 2018. Dan Rauch, with DOEE, observed Mr. President and The First Lady soaring together near the nest area on Oct. 12, and they made their first visit to the nest on Oct. 15. Following their routine for the early nesting season, they did not visit the nest every day, but brought in sticks every few days or so. Their first known mating was on Nov. 28, reported by Sue Greeley.
Unfortunately, we do not know much about their activities from December 22 through the first of February 2019 because of no cam access due to the government shutdown, which also meant no reports from Sue Greeley. Once we did have internet access, we saw that Mr. President worked hard on the nest every day, and The First Lady once again played supervisor! She did occasionally bring in a stick, but most often she just rearranged his work! Mr. President seemed to be focusing much of his stick placement in the infamous “V” and the side of the nest by the lateral branch. Many times, he brought in sticks that were so big that they looked like trees, and several of them were so large that they went overboard when he tried to place them in the “V.” Watching him watch the stick he placed so carefully fall down to the ground always elicited a chuckle!
Once again, there were several eagles who visited the nest. Most of these visits were short and tolerated well, especially by Mr. President. There were a few visitors, however, that were persistent and got a little too comfortable. These were the visitors that Mr. President tried to chase away himself, and when that didn’t work, The First Lady flew in and dive-bombed them! To our knowledge, none of the visitors that The First Lady dive-bombed returned!
February and March rolled by with no eggs being laid, but we did not worry because The First Lady had been laying her eggs a little bit later every year, and we were seeing them mate every day, more than once most days. When April started and there were still no eggs, we began to wonder if maybe she would not lay eggs this year, which is not unusual, although it had just never happened in their short history. Eagles in the Chesapeake Bay area lay eggs through April, so we were still hopeful.
However, eggs were not meant to be this year, and we last saw The First Lady June 14 and Mr. President on June 18. We will never know for sure why they skipped eggs this year, but it very well could be because of all the visitor activity around the time she would normally be laying eggs. Although it is a disappointment to not have eggs this season, we are happy that Mr. President and The First Lady are in good health and safe, and we look forward to next season!
Previous Nesting Seasons
The Educational Impact of These Cams
The educational impact of our high-definition nest cams has been phenomenal, providing unprecedented insight into the Bald Eagle nesting process. This project also focuses on conservation, habitat protection, and the dangers that eagles still face in the wild.
Historically, Mr. President & The First Lady lay two eggs each season. For the first two seasons, eggs were laid in mid-February, but in 2018 they were laid a month later. The average incubation period is 35 days, and as hatch time approaches, all eyes will be peeled for the first pip or breakthrough of the egg shell by the eaglet inside. Then, thousands of viewers settle down to watch these eaglets grow and develop from tiny downy eaglets into feisty, magnificent fledglings, ready to take their first flight into what will be a steep learning curve of survival in the wild.
To enhance the educational experience, a moderated chat is embedded on the cam page, allowing viewers to comment and ask questions about the eagles. Knowledgeable and friendly moderators help guide the discussion and provide insight. AEF also encourages students and groups who are studying eagles or related topics to reserve time in the chat where their questions can be answered. This has been a hugely successful endeavor, and we have welcomed many classrooms with students of all ages. Teachers across the nation have written us with glowing compliments about the positive impact this experience has had on their students.
In 2015, after an educational visit to Capitol Hill, the American Eagle Foundation had the privilege of visiting the National Arboretum, where they first learned about this idyllic nest site. Afterwards, the AEF and USNA entered into a partnership to place two HD video cameras at the top of the nest with direct views into the nest.
After the eagle pair left their nest site in August 2015 for their annual migration, the AEF traveled to DC 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 mobile solar array that was designed and built by students and staff from Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology and was partially funded by DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE).
Each year, improvements have been made with streaming, cam quality, and better delivery. The American Eagle Foundation, the U.S. National Arboretum, and Friends of the National Arboretum, along with other cooperative agencies supporting this project, look forward to the next nesting season with Mr. President & The First Lady and invite you to share it with us when live video streaming begins on January 1, 2020.
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