Each year since the Nongame Wildlife Eagle Cam was first introduced at an undisclosed location in St. Paul, the same female bald eagle showed up at the nest. And, like clockwork, the eagle laid three eggs each and every year.
The "clock" was a little off this year – it marked the first time since the Eagle Cam was launched in 2013 that Valentine's Day came and went without an egg in the nest. In fact, the first egg didn't come until Monday, Feb. 19, and a second followed Thursday, Feb. 22. Because of that eagle's history, the Minnesota DNR was expecting a third egg soon after, possibly over the weekend.
If the third egg did come over the weekend or earlier this week, it was difficult to tell, what with the Saturday snowstorm and the adult eagle pair's virtual non-stop incubating efforts. And Monday and Tuesday, even on the rare occasion the eagles both left the nest, only two eggs were visible.
But Wednesday, any Eagle Cam viewers got a no-doubt look at three eggs in the nest.
So now comes the wait until the eggs hatch and the eaglets appear – always a highlight for Eagle Cam-watchers. According to the DNR, the incubation period is 35 to 37 days, which means the first eaglet could hatch around March 25.
According to the DNR, bald eagle eggs weight about 4.4 ounces and are approximately 2.9 inches long and 2.2 inches wide. In that first year in 2013, the nest failed and the eggs didn't hatch (they reportedly were laid the first week of January – by far the earliest of the six years). But since then, 10 eaglets have been successfully raised and fledged from the nest, the DNR said.
The camera that, for the previous five years had been streaming live video from the nest, stopped working last spring. But thanks to donations and work by the agency, a new camera was installed on a different branch of the same tree overlooking the same nest as in previous years, the DNR said in December 2017.
The new camera is reportedly an upgrade: It’s high-definition and features infrared imaging for nighttime viewing. It also includes a microphone, a first at the nest, but the mic has been faulty and isn't currently operational. It will be replaced when the chicks are banded this spring, the DNR said, as it's too late in the season to disturb the nest now.
Various camera angles also are offered, along with an automatic zoom, as evident by the top close-up photo of the three eggs.