Narrator: The young female lays her quarter-pound egg before dawn.
Exposed, an egg can freeze in a minute. And so the father will need to move in for his first shift.
Bob Anderson: The first egg was laid early in the morning. We actually missed it. We saw the birds sitting in the bowl and we knew it would be soon. But we were kind of surprised to see this first egg. But we can see him, how careful he is with his feet. His feet are balled up, and he’s trying to hide his talons. He doesn’t want those nails to poke a hole in that fragile egg. And it’s touching to watch that sensitivity that this old guy has had with many, many eggs, probably, in his lifetime.
If a second egg is coming, it’s due two days after the first.
Anderson: C’mon, stand up. She looks like she’s about ready to stand up, but…What do we have? We have two eggs!! We’ve got two eggs, see this, see ‘em both. Ha ha.
Neil Rettig: So you feel like a papa?
Anderson: When they hatch I’ll feel like a papa. Now we just have to wait 35 days from today to see our first baby.
Narrator: If eagles can feel pride or joy, the new parents must be brimming over. They will now work nearly unbroken shifts, but even such an effort can’t guarantee that the eggs will hatch safely – especially since they must survive one of the longest incubations of any bird along the Upper Mississippi.
Egg thieves abound. Raccoons and crows are everywhere. So each parent is highly attuned to any sight or sound of menace.
And then – another storm.
Anderson: We knew a storm was coming and we really wanted to see the first reaction of the birds waking up, covered in snow. So we made sure we had our recorders running long before daylight. I was at first disappointed we had snow on the lens, but it just shows how ugly the conditions really, really are. I mean, this bird’s covered in snow. And she’s screaming right now, at the male, going, “Come and relieve me. Come and take my place." And he does.
The speckle-headed female finally proves herself… and the devoted father knows his job.
With a little luck, the eggs will hatch in another week.
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