In Iowa, bald eagle parents work hard to raise their first two chicks.
Watch Baby Eagles Hatch and Grow
Published: May 12, 2020
Narrator: Under the most recent snowfall, this bald eagle is trying to protect her most precious possessions. These two eggs must be kept at around 99 degrees Fahrenheit to hatch successfully. At night, temperatures plummet to minus-13. By day, it’s cold enough to freeze her eyelashes. But she’ll do whatever she can to keep her eggs safe.
It’s the first week of April, and the female seems restless. One of the chicks is starting to hatch. After 37 days of incubation, it uses a tiny egg tooth on top of its beak to crack the shell, in a bid for freedom.
Three days later, it’s joined by its sibling.
Even at this young age, they need to eat almost half their body weight in meat every day. Thankfully, help is on hand to bring in fresh supplies.
This is the male, and as with all bald eagles, he’s about 20 percent smaller than his mate. It’s thought she might be bigger to help produce and incubate the eggs.
Bald eagles normally pair for life, but the female’s previous partner has disappeared, so this male is new. The breeding season can last around 10 months, so rearing the chicks will be a real test of their new relationship.
The chicks’ weight can increase by a staggering 500 percent in their first week, so the adults spend much of the time hunting.
Over the next few weeks, the parents will bring in around five fish a day to help the chicks grow, and by a month old, some obvious changes start to show.
Their fluffy thermal down, which has kept them warm all this time, is slowly being covered by juvenile flight feathers. These will continue to grow until they reach their maximum length, around the time they fledge.
But perhaps the most important change is in their vision. Their eyes open within hours of hatching, but much like a human baby, it’s thought they’re born with poor sight. It takes a few weeks for their eyesight to sharpen and become one of the most powerful senses in the animal world.
Produced and Directed by: Simon Baxter
Edited by: Tim Lasseter
Digital Production: Noor Nasser
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