VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: When will they hatch?

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in partnership with the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC, is providing a rare glimpse into the life of two bald eagles and their offspring!

Friday, February 27, 2009

“When will they hatch?”

This is one of the most common question regarding the eagles at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Typical bald eagle incubation lasts for 35 days which would put us on schedule for St. Patrick's Day - March 17th for the 1st egg to hatch. This pair has an established history of extended incubation however with the 1st egg typically hatching after 38 days (target date of March 20th).

Subsequent eggs may take just as long or hatch after a shorter time period. The eagles will often not begin full time incubation with the first or even second egg. Indeed the Norfolk Botanical Garden pair didn't really settle down and incubate consistently until after the third egg had been laid. This somewhat delayed incubation has the effect of slowing early embryo development helping to compress the time between hatch dates. This can be important as the third chick to hatch can be at a disadvantage compared to its larger siblings - who've had several days to feed and grow by the time it emerges. By slowing development of the first eggs the chicks may hatch more closely together