Washington DC 2017 Nesting Season
The Eagles Return!
After several months away from their nesting territory, Mr. President returned to the nest tree on Sept. 13 and was followed by The First Lady on Oct. 11. Since then, they both have been tirelessly carrying-out nest building activities (“nestorations”) and adding hundreds of sticks and other soft materials to the interior of nest. The nest is slightly sturdier than last year, thanks to some natural support being placed in the tree over the summer.
The cams went live to the public for the 2016-2017 Nesting Season on New Year’s Eve.
The pair spent the month of January and the first half of February preparing to raise a new family by performing “nestorations,” also called nest-building, which consists of adding new sticks and nesting materials to their nest in order to make it bigger and stronger.
In February, the pair continued their nest-building activities by increasing the height of the nest-rails (the stick-railing around the circumference of the nest) to prevent eaglets from falling out prematurely, and they also worked on perfecting the ‘egg-cup,’ which is a cozy bowl-like indentation in the center of the nest formed of grass, pine needles, leaves, and other soft materials created for eggs and newborn eaglets. The eagles regularly mated in order to produce fertile eggs.
Eggs Are Laid!
On February 19 at approximately 6:24 pm EST, The First Lady laid the pair’s first egg of 2017. Almost four days later, on February 23, at approximately 4:26 pm EST, she laid their second egg.
Winter Storm Stella
On March 14, a severe winter storm rolled into the DC area. That night and the following morning, mom eagle “The First Lady” hunkered down over the two fragile eggs, protecting them from Winter Storm Stella. For several hours, her mate, “Mr. President,”added an extra layer of warmth inside their nest. Viewers could only hope that this dedication from the parent eagles would protect the yet-to-be-hatched eaglets.
AEF volunteers confirmed that the first egg had pipped on March 28 at around 9:58 a.m. Less than 24 hours later, at 7:20 a.m., the eaglet known as DC4 fully emerged from its shell. The second egg pipped at 7:50 a.m. on March 30 and the eaglet known as DC5 fully hatched almost 6 hours later at 1:54 p.m.
After hatching, both eaglets proved to be healthy and grew strong over the next few weeks. Food was plentiful, and both parents shared in nurturing the eaglets.
On April 12, the American Eagle Foundation and the other DC Eagle Cam partners announced the #NameTheNestlings campaign. Thousands of people offered suggestions and ideas for new names to be given to DC4 and DC5. This was the first round of the naming process and ended on April 18th.
DC4 Requires a Rescue!
A major bump in the road occurred on April 20th, when many viewers observed that the right leg of 23-day-old Bald Eaglet DC4 had become precariously lodged inside a hole within the outer rails of its large stick-nest. The eaglet was unable to free itself after many attempts to do so over a considerable period of time, requiring immediate human intervention. Read the story of DC4’s rescue and return to the nest.
Relieved that DC4 was back in the nest, safe and sound, the DC eagle cam partners launched the 2nd round of #NameTheNestlings campaign. Between April 24 – April 30, almost 30,000 people cast their vote for the final selection. Winning names were Honor (formerly DC4) and Glory (formerly DC5).
A May Entry in the Event Log
Our Event Log volunteers were incredible. Here is just a sample of the way they brought the eagles even closer to all the viewers:
Together, the entire DC eagle family gave us a show. We saw how doting TFL was, how attentive Mr. P was and how they both worked as a team to raise their family. As for myself, what started as a simple log entry such as: “TFL did an egg roll” shifted into a dance with words. while monitoring, things just came to me. We had: “The Blue Jay Gang”, “The Stick Depot” the “Sushi Bar”, songs, riddles, rhymes and poetry which were all part of the story.
I enjoyed being able to let the wheels turn and be creative for you, the viewers. Everything I wrote had you all in mind. I wondered if you enjoyed the silly entries, or perhaps just wanted the straight facts. This was all new to all of us monitors. We were fortunate that our team leader engaged with us and supported us throughout the season to be ourselves with our writings. We had the independence to write from our hearts and with that, you all got to know each of us as monitors. This made our Volunteer work truly a beautiful journey. We transformed the log from simple “egg rolls” to three line stories of what we were watching.
The eaglets screamed at Mom or Dad whenever either parent approached with food, and even though these two eaglets seemed very close to each other, they each wanted food first, and manners did not seem to matter at all! Their colors changed to deeper gray/black. Both eaglets practiced wingercizing – and the huge nest didn’t seem as huge anymore as both eaglets spread their wings! Growing eaglets require more and more food, and Mr. President & The First Lady were diligent in keeping the pantry stocked! Our event log chroniclers took meticulous notes many times each day, documenting nest activities and eaglet behaviors.
On June 4, we have this entry on the Event Log:
June brought another major milestone in the life of the eaglets: Branching! There were so many “almost branching” moments for both eaglets. They were on the cusp of doing it, and our YouTube videos are wonderful reminders of this period in their lives. After several days, both eaglets accomplished this major skill – branching on low limbs, balancing, wingercizing, then navigating back to the safety of the nest. Finding confidence, both eaglets ventured further up on the branches.
Honor & Glory Fledge
On June 12, Glory climbed up the left V branch with ease and went all the way up to the Y. While going up a little bit further, she had a misstep, lost her balance and quite by accident missed the nest and flew down to a branch about 20 feet below the nest. This sometimes happens! There was extensive monitoring by the cam operators, and also by Arboretum staff on the ground to make sure Glory was OK, and the eagle parents kept watch as well!
On June 16 Glory flew back to the nest, with resounding sighs of relief from thousands of viewers! To make it even better, a fresh fish was in the nest, and when Glory arrived, Honor stepped away from the meal at hand, allowing Glory (obviously very hungry) to devour the fish.
Three days later, June 19, Glory made an “official” fledge, soaring gracefully to a neighboring tree. After exploring for about an hour, Glory returned to the nest.
On June 22, Honor fledged the nest at 9:09 a.m., returning at 9:40 a.m. to enjoy lunch that was delivered while she was away.
The rest of June and July was spent in practicing branching, balancing, flying, and returning to the nest. They often hung out together on the upper branch. It was adventure time for these eaglets. Lots of food was still being delivered to the nest by both parents, and it seemed that the eaglets were always ready for more! The squeeing was incessant when they anticipated a delivery of food.
The eaglets were last seen at the end of July. Honor departed first on around the 13th. Glory was seen in the nest on the 22nd and probably departed on the next stage of her adventures not too many days afterward.
Chat ended on the 23rd of July, and the cams were taken offline on July 30. Our Event Log narrators’ contribution to this season cannot be overemphasized. Their entries were accurate, entertaining, fun to read, and provide a history of the season second to none. If you haven’t read them, you really should! Of course, where would be be without the cam operators and the mods? Or the IT people? Thank you EVERYONE for your dedication and expertise this season.
A note from one of our Event Loggers:
We watched in awe as our beloved pair set the stage for what was to come. Through torrential downpours to snow, Mr. P and TFL never gave up on their two bundles of love that they were incubating. Who knew that such spirit and delightful personalities would come of those eggs. We finally were introduced to Honor, a brilliant little girl whose spunk had us falling in love with her from the start. She was so low key and rarely dramatic. Occasionally she’d get feisty and would show off her skills with aggression and the ability to mantle fish quickly, but mostly she was just a mellow eaglet with chiseled features that made her stand out. She was a large, beautiful girl who thrilled us.
We also met Glory. Oh Glory….Glory was such a sweet little thing with a huge personality, one that didn’t rival Honor’s, one that went above and beyond. From his/her silly antics to fortitude, s/he made the most of the nest tree. Dancing along, hopping everywhere and making us a nervous wreck! Glory had a lot of firsts, one being the first to branch. Not only did Glory branch, s/he went all out. Jumping high, jumping low, jumping here, there and everywhere. Glory had us hooked. We watched in awe when s/he jumped to the side branch for the first time, eventually s/he would inch his/her way further out on it while Honor looked puzzled at how s/he did that. Glory was a fun eaglet to watch, that’s for sure.
Together, the two eaglets kept us on our toes all season and kept our fingers on the mouse ready to click and take beautiful pictures of them. Their bond was evident. They were as close as close can be. Very little bickering which was nice to see. Together, the entire DC eagle family gave us a show. We saw how doting TFL was, how attentive Mr. P was and how they both worked as a team to raise their family.
As for myself, what started as a simple log entry such as: “TFL did an egg roll” shifted into a dance with words. while monitoring, things just came to me. We had: “The Blue Jay Gang”, “The Stick Depot” the “Sushi Bar”, songs, riddles, rhymes and poetry which were all part of the story. I enjoyed being able to let the wheels turn and be creative for you, the viewers. Everything I wrote had you all in mind. I wondered if you enjoyed the silly entries, or perhaps just wanted the straight facts. This was all new to all of us monitors. We were fortunate that our team leader engaged with us and supported us throughout the season to be ourselves with our writings. We had the independence to write from our hearts and with that, you all got to know each of us as monitors. This made our Volunteer work truly a beautiful journey. We transformed the log from simple “egg rolls” to three line stories of what we were watching.
A huge Thank You to all our incredible volunteers—remote cam operators, mods, event log chroniclers, and IT personnel – YOU ARE AMAZING! And we hope to do it all over again next season!