(Meaghan Lee Callaghan; 14 March 2017)
At the U.S. National Arboretum, both eagle parents settled on their nest to warm their eggs, and each other, through the cold, icy night.
Overnight Monday and all day Tuesday, Winter Storm Stella pelted the East Coast with snow, sleet, and hail. The wintry weather shut down much of the human world, with an estimated 18 million Americans snowed in under a blizzard warning.
Nesting birds, however, don’t get snow days, and so they must endure unfavorable conditions to shelter their young. Two years ago, we witnessed via webcam two Bald Eagles persist as falling snow buried their nest, and today, Winter Storm Stella gave another pair of Bald Eagles in Washington D.C. a chance to show off their own parental dedication.
Unlike that first pair, though, during this storm, both parents were filmed incubating the nest at the same time. Stacked on top of each other, the two eagles huddled close together, providing extra warmth and snow protection for their two eggs—and each other.
After hunkering down Monday evening with the snow starting to fall, the mother eagle didn’t leave the nest almost all night. Her one brief respite came early Tuesday morning, during which her mate tried to take over incubating duties. But a few minutes later, she returned, as if to say, “Thanks, but I’ve got this,” according to the American Eagle Foundation, which operates the webcam in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Bald Eagle duo is the pride and joy of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., where they’ve been nesting since 2014 in a tulip poplar tree. Aptly named “Mr. President” and “the First Lady,” they laid two eggs in the middle of February, and many onlookers have closely followed their nurturing instincts over a webcam. With super parents like these, staff expect the eggs to hatch at the end of March.