EagleCam Update

minnesota department of natural resources

It's Hatch Week at the EagleCam

So, will there be chicks?

It is “hatch week” in our beloved eagle’s nest.  Will we see chicks?

Unfortunately, inconsistent incubation and wet, cool spring temperatures are unfavorable conditions for a successful hatch. We know that eggs are composed of mostly fluid and many factors affect hatchability.  Just like in humans, there are genetic, nutritional, physiological, and behavioral features of the incubation process that all need to transpire in order for the eggs to hatch into healthy eagle chicks.  Temperature and humidity are important environmental conditions that have not been consistent at the nest.  Prolonged absence from the eggs we have witnessed make it likely the remaining two eggs will not hatch.  Thirty-three to thirty-five days from laying is average hatch date.  Monday the 26th of March was 35 days from the first egg lay.

While the female continues to incubate, she is not doing so consistently, as most of you have noted.  The inconsistent incubation eggs does not bode well for proper development of the chicks.  On 3-28, one of the eggs appeared to be missing.  We have seen egg fragments in the nest, so we assume one egg has broken and will not hatch.

At this point it is very unlikely the female would lay another egg, even if both remaining eggs don’t hatch.  She has laid three eggs and has expended her calcium and energy reserves in her body for the nesting season.  The male has not been providing much needed support to the eggs or the female.  This suggests this new male may be young and inexperienced in nest brooding. 

Frequent close-up images of the eggs do not provide reliable insight into the viability of the eggs.  There are some spots on the eggs that appear to be a pip.  Wind, grass in the nest and other factors make it difficult to tell a dirt spot from a true pip, but we remain watchful. 

We hope you continue to watch with us and share the exciting tale of life in a bald eagle nest!  Thank you for all of your continued support on Facebook and emails.  Donations keep our program afloat and help us to continue providing this viewing for you.  If you forgot to donate on your taxes, or if you are not a Minnesota taxpayer, please consider a donation to our program.  The important work of protecting wildlife in Minnesota is broad and severely under-funded.  Any donation you provide is helpful and so appreciated.  Not only that, but ALL donations are matched one-to-one from the Critical Habitat License Plate fund!  Making a double donation knowing you are personally helping bald eagles, trumpeter swans, loons, blue birds and other species thrive is a gift that rewards for future generations!  We thank you, and our family of eagles thanks you! 

It’s Officially Spring!

 Get excited! Snow piles are melting, temperatures are rising, and day length is increasing! Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s time to break free from our seasonally dormant lifestyle and embrace the pending vernal changes.

Speaking of dormancy, did you know that wildlife species practice multiple types? For example, there’s hibernation, brumation, diapause, quiescence, torpor, and aestivation! Many of these terms get used loosely and synonymously, but each has a specific meaning and describes a specific type of dormancy.

 Hibernation is specific to endotherms, like mammals, and is characterized by inactivity, lowered body temperature, and reduced breathing, heart, and metabolic rates. Hibernation was traditionally defined relative to body temperature reduction; however, the term has been redefined and is now based on seasonal metabolic depression concurrent with food scarcity and cold temperatures.

 Brumation is similar to hibernation but is specific to ectotherms, like reptiles, and involves different metabolic processes. For example, reptiles accumulate high levels of glycogen in their tissues and blood, allowing them to tolerate lower oxygen levels than hibernating mammals. And unlike true hibernators, brumators will periodically “awake” and drink water to avoid dehydration.

 Diapause is a period of developmental arrest initiated in response to a stimulus (e.g., reduced day length) prior to predictable, seasonally recurring environmental conditions (e.g. low winter temperatures). Diapause facilitates survival, synchronizes life history traits with seasonal cycles, and cannot be interrupted until the physiological process has ended. Diapause is typically associated with insects and other arthropods, as well as the embryos of certain fishes.

 Comparatively, torpor and quiescence are immediate and relatively short-term responses to unpredictable environmental conditions (e.g., food scarcity). These physiological processes are not seasonally dependent and may last for one day to multiple weeks. Generally, torpor is applied to birds and mammals, whereas quiescence is applied to insects.

 Like hibernation and brumation, aestivation is characterized by inactivity and reduced metabolic rates; however, this physiological process is a response to arid conditions and high, rather than low, temperatures. Typically, aestivating species burrow in the soil to avoid heat damage and desiccation; however, some species have evolved clever supporting mechanisms. For example, lesser sirens, which occupy portions of the Mississippi River Valley and the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plains, survive week- to year-long droughts by retreating deep into crayfish burrows and secreting mucus that hardens into a cocoon and prevents dehydration.

 Looking for a way to get outside and be less dormant? Check out the Minnesota State Parks and Trails event calendar for maple syrup workshops, group hikes, wildlife photography classes, and more!

 The EagleCam and associated technology are paid for and maintained by the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which is largely supported by voluntary contributions.  Recognized as one of the most successful programs of its kind in the United States, the Nongame Wildlife program helps hundreds of Minnesota species through habitat restorations, surveys and monitoring, technical guidance, and outreach and education  – critters such as bees, butterflies, songbirds, loons, frogs, turtles and bats, as well as eagles. Donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program are matched dollar for dollar by the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) license plate fund. They’re also tax-deductible.  Learn more at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/index.html.



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