Our story thus far: The female Bald Eagle has laid two eggs this season, on 2/16-17 and 2/20. Incubation takes approx. 5 weeks, which means the first egg could hatch any day now (fingers crossed/knock on wood). You can view the nest on streaming video here. Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, describes the egg-hatching process. Eggs will hatch in the order that they were laid. The hatching process, can take 24 hours or more. Eaglet and egg with pip 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. Itll 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 parents 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 arent blocking the view of the egg. While the first egg is in the hatching process theyll still be incubating the second egg. (Thanks, Larissa!)
Coming Wednesday at 1 p.m. on this blog: Make way for nestlings -- CWF's Larissa Smith explains all.