2/11/17 – You may already know that the Bald eagle nesting season in Pennsylvania has arrived! Both the Hays and Hanover females laid their first eggs of the season within minutes of each other on Friday evening 2/10/17. Because they are on live camera there is video of the Hays female laying her egg, with the male coming in to assist the best a male can in these situations, as well as the Hanover female laying her egg. The Hanover female has been incubating with some time off the egg, which is perfectly fine at this stage of development. The Hays female, on the other hand, has not been incubation her egg as much. She has not abandoned the egg, but it is possible she is attempting to delay incubation. This is a possible adaptive strategy aimed at assuring the first and second eggs hatch more closely together, thus reducing the size difference between the two chicks and potentially increasing the chances that both get enough food to grow rapidly. Delayed incubation was not previously thought to occur in Bald Eagles, but nest cameras have allowed scientists to witness nesting activity in ways they never could before. If you would like to contribute to a study of nesting behaviors of Bald Eagles by watching nest cameras, you can find more information about the Egalitarian Science study I am currently working on.
If you recall, the Harmar female generally lays her eggs a few weeks later than the Hays and Hanover females. Annette Devinney captured this photograph of the Harmar pair getting ready for the nesting season, thanks Annette!
Meanwhile, the Harmar nest had a visitor again this season, a Red-tailed Hawk was seen spending several minutes in the nest. It is impossible to know if this was one of the hawks that used to claim this nest, as several are frequently seen in the area. Thank you Dollyqueen and Jerseyme for capturing and posting the video!