Eagle Cam update: Cruel winter taking its toll [video]

It was like an April Fool's joke that wouldn't end.

But it was no joke. Certainly not for Minnesotans – and a wide swath of the country that remains engulfed in full-blown winter mode.

Still, the snow that fell wet and heavy Monday afternoon, April 2 in the Twin Cities was especially cruel for our outdoor inhabitants – animals and creatures that have endured this never-ending winter up and through the first few weeks of spring.

And for the bald eagles of Eagle Cam fame – and likely other nesting birds across the region this time of year – it can be even worse. Like kicking them when they're down, it seems.

This should be an exciting time on the Eagle Cam front – April 2 was about the time the third and final egg should have been hatching in the nest, located at its usual undisclosed spot in St. Paul.

Instead, thanks in part to this long-lasting winter and cold temps, there may not be any eaglets in the nest at all this year. As of Monday morning, there appeared to be only one egg in the nest – on March 30, it was reported that two eggs remained. By early Monday afternoon, snow had covered the nest and an adult eagle that was in the nest and on the egg.

It's all but impossible to say which of the three eggs remains – whether it was the first, second or third egg to be laid. If it's the third egg, given that it was laid around Feb. 25, there's still hope: According to the Minnesota DNR, which monitors the nest, the incubation period is 35 to 37 days, meaning an egg laid Feb. 25 should hatch between April 1 and April 3. So there is hope.

But the first two eggs came Feb. 19 and Feb. 21, meaning they should have hatched last week. Still, the whole process has been behind schedule this year: 2017 marked the latest – by far – that eggs have come since the Eagle Cam was launched in 2013.

But according to a news release from the DNR, the outlook isn't great.

"Unfortunately, inconsistent incubation and wet, cool spring temperatures are unfavorable conditions for a successful hatch," the release said. "While the female continues to incubate, she is not doing so consistently ... The inconsistent incubation of eggs does not bode well for proper development of the chicks.

"At this point it is very unlikely the female would lay another egg ... 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 (cracks in the egg indicating hatching). Wind, grass in the nest and other factors make it difficult to tell a dirt spot from a true pip, but we remain watchful."

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