Eaglet Development: Hatchling Phase

We are on day 2 of hatching of the eaglets. One hatched yesterday and the other is very close to hatching. I thought it would be important to offer some insight about the development of the eaglets.

Before I dig in I plan on documenting their journey into the real world over on our school global project site – http://eagleeyecamera.wikispaces.com/home

We would to have you join us and help crowdsource the information. Please consider adding photos, blog posts, and information that you have about the eagles on our page. We have one page on the site titled, 2013 eaglets, where we hope to document each day of the eaglets to keep track of the process as well as document our learning. The more we have contribute the better the page will be.

Okay, now for some information that I have collected.

Eggs are hatched by the order in which they were laid. Some have asked if the stronger eaglet hatches first and the answer is no, it is based on order. They pip the shell using their beak tooth or egg tooth and then the slow process begins. It takes a ton of energy to break from the shell and therefore can take hours to finally emerge. We incubated and hatched quail earlier in the year as a parallel study and it was amazing how long it took and when they finally emerge they almost look dead because they are so exhausted.

The male typically is the one that brings in the food. As of this writing there are three fish in the nest. One was brought in yesterday after the hatching and two more fish were brought in this morning. We have seen the mother already tear some strips from the fish to feed the young and it is amazing to watch the eaglet eat.

The eaglet is very weak during the first few days. They have a hard time lifting their head, they cannot walk, and have very limited vision. During the first few days the eaglet is called a hatchling. They are not able to eat during the first day which is what we observed during the first day Saturday.

The parents are very cautious in the nest. They will bring in their talons to not risk hurting the young eaglet.

During this first week the eaglets will not do much. They cannot control their temperature so the parents will keep them covered to stay warm. They will not lose their color which the grayish hue. They will lose their egg tooth and slowly become more active.

On average the eaglets are hatched weighing around 3 ounces which to help give a visual is about 18 nickels. They are quite small, but grow fast. This information comes from the paper ‘Physical Development of Nestling Bald Eagle Growth with Special Emphasis on the Timing of Growth Events‘, written by Gary Bortolotti. They will gain about one pound every 4-5 days

I am going to continue to provide facts and information as I learn more and study more. As stated above please feel free to help out and share what you know, images captured, etc. The more the merrier.


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