Sunday, March 20, 2016

How We Became Obsessed With the DC Eagle Cam

All images in this post are copyright 2016 American Eagle Foundation

Two days ago, we saw an NPR post about a live Eagle cam focused on a nest with two eggs close to hatching. Since then, watching the cams has turned into a slight obsession. 

Step 1: Get to know the proud parents 
If you're going to admire their hard work, it is important to get to know the parents of this operation. Given that they're nesting at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C., the eagle pair have been named "Mr. President" and "The First Lady." According to the American Eagle Foundation, this same pair successfully reared another eaglet last year.

Mr. President and The First Lady, anxiously watching the first eaglet emerging from its egg.

Step 2: Obsess over every aspect of the egg
We quickly learned what hard work it is to hatch! The first eaglet emerged more than 24 hours after this first "pip" appeared on the shell. As time went on and the parents shifted the eggs around, we anxiously watched to see if any progress was being made. The parents seemed equally obsessed, getting up periodically to stare at that egg. Being born is hard work! The "pip" on the second egg has not appeared yet; the eggs were laid four days apart (February 10th and 14th), so we suspect to start seeing a pip on the second egg in a few days.

First pip sighting!

Step 3: Eagle Cheerleading
Any progress observed in the nest is cause for enthusiastic celebration. Eagle Cheerleading includes messaging everyone you know and getting them on board with watching the cam so that you have multiple people to discuss every aspect of progress and eagle life. Slowly, the cheerleading process morphs into you becoming a novice eagle expert. Every message begins with "Check the cam." or "CAM A, TURN ON CAM A NOW!"
One of our many text messages conversations devoted to Mr. President and The First Lady's brood. 

Who cares what else is happening when it appears the eaglet will be emerging from the shell. As this process goes on, it will stall and all facets of fear and doubt will cycle through your head. Progress slows and you worry. Has something happened to the eaglet? Is it just tired? Taking a break? Why does it seem like there is no progress on the egg since The First Lady last shifted and the egg was visible? Has something happened to the eaglet? DO NOT DIE ON ME EAGLET! Oh, whew. It's moving again. Definitely alive.

The business of being hatched is hard work.

Step 5: Begin personifying/over-identifying with the eagles
After staring at every movement of these eagles for a time, you begin wondering about their emotional experience throughout all of this. When they get up to re-adjust and take a moment to glimpse at their eggs, you begin seeing human-like emotions: stress, concern, wonder, curiosity. Who knows if that is what the eagles are actually experiencing -- you just start to believe they actually are feeling what you would feel if you were an eagle who spent the last month on a nest.

Wet feathers, a sign that these parents tolerate harsh elements to protect their tiny eaglets. 

Step 6: Realize this process involves a lot of fish
Apparently, fish are the primary dietary staple of nesting eagles. Who knew? Whoever is "off-duty" will occasionally stop by to deliver a fresh catch. At times, there are just 2-3 bloody, half-eaten fish hanging out on the edges of the nest. C likes to make jokes about their Omega 3 intake being stellar. 


Step 7: Have actual arguments about things occurring in the nest that others do not believe
Two days ago, Mr. President arrived back to the nest with a twig that had several flower buds on it. He appeared to "present" the twig to The First Lady. One of us observed this, but was not fast enough with the "Print Screen" button to capture it; naturally, the non-observer questions the validity of this statement (Note: It definitely happened!!). Proceed to have a 15-minute text conversation about how plausible this possibility would be. Eventually, agree to disagree.

Are you watching the DC Eagle Cams? Have you seen anything noteworthy? Let us know in the comments! We now have several friends and family members watching and we would love to know if you are, too! Click here to watch live.

U.S. National Arboretum © 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG © 2016 American Eag

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