Call it: “Egg Watch 2019.”
Phoenix AZ (March 29, 2019) – Beginning Sunday, March 31 all eyes will be trained on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s live-streaming bald eagle camera and the egg carefully nestled inside a cliffside nest on Lake Pleasant. It’s then when the fourth — and lone surviving — egg laid by a pair of nesting bald eagles will have completed its 35-day incubation period, meaning the egg could begin hatching at any moment.
“The current breeding season has been a roller coaster for viewers and wildlife enthusiasts alike,” said Jeff Meyers, AZGFD watchable wildlife program coordinator. Since the department’s live-streaming bald eagle camera went live Dec. 18 more than 320,600 people have tuned in for the ensuing drama.
“The first egg was eaten by ravens. The second was eaten or damaged by a ringtail,” Meyers said. Egg three? Ravens, once again. “During this period, the birds also continued to ward off multiple attacks from a rival adult bald eagle that repeatedly dive-bombed the nest. All this remarkable activity was broadcasted live to thousands of online viewers who now have a greater appreciation for Arizona’s wildlife.”
On Feb. 24 — one day after losing the third egg — the female laid a fourth. This time the new nesting pair drew from hard lessons about the importance of ensuring the egg was incubated at all times and the need to work together to ward off predators looking for their next easy meal.
The eggs were the first for this breeding eagle pair, after the previous male was bested by another bird early into the current breeding season. However, the new male’s youth and inexperience was quickly exhibited as he struggled to grasp his role in caring for and protecting vulnerable eggs.
“These events highlight the unpredictable challenges wildlife face on a daily basis,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD raptor management coordinator. “There is a moderate chance the fourth egg may hatch, but if it does, the eaglet will continue to face life-threatening challenges. It will need constant adult care and protection from predators for the first three weeks, but its chances for survival will increase each day until it successfully fledges from the nest in 10 to 12 weeks.”
Records show the bald eagle population at Lake Pleasant has grown since 1993 and 28 birds have since survived to take their first flight, known as fledging. In this nest, two eggs were laid with the previous male in early January 2018 and each hatched the following month. The two young successfully fledged in late April 2018.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department Lake Pleasant bald eagle live-streaming camera is funded through Heritage and Pittman Robertson funds, and public donations. Those wishing to support the Watchable Wildlife program can click the “donate now” button after selecting which live camera feed to view at www.azgfd.gov/livecams.
To support the department’s effort to conserve and protect Arizona’s more than 800 native wildlife species, the public can purchase a Conservation Membership package at www.azwildlifehero.com and clicking on “support us” and “become a member.” Different membership levels come with special perks, from a beautiful set of wildlife notecards to an annual subscription to Arizona Wildlife Views Magazine.
The bald eagle cam is the fourth wildlife camera offered by the department, which also provides seasonal views of wintering sandhill cranes in southeastern Arizona, a bat roost at Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area and an underwater pupfish cam. All the live streams can be viewed at www.azgfd.gov/livecams.