Update — Friday, 7/6: Sadly, the RRP announced this week that D12, the first Decorah eaglet to hatch in 2012, was electrocuted by a power line near the family nest. The other two eaglets remain in good health.
Update — Tuesday, 6/19: All three eaglets have now successfully fledged.
Update — Friday, 3/30: The RRP confirms that the third egg has started to hatch.
Update — Thursday, 3/29: The first two chicks are now fully hatched.
Update — Wednesday, 3/28: A second chick began hatching Wednesday morning, the RRP has confirmed. The first chick will be named D12, and the second D13.
Update — Monday, 3/26: The first chick has finally begun to hatch, with evidence of a "pip" showing up by midafternoon Monday. It can take 48 hours to fully hatch.
The Decorah eagles are no strangers to fame — thousands of people around the world are constantly watching them, day and night, and discussing their every move in online forums. But the Iowa-based parents are under especially intense surveillance this weekend, even by their own standards.
The first of the couple's three eggs is expected to hatch sometime between Friday, March 23, and Sunday, March 25, prompting their fans to declare "Hatch Watch 2012" officially underway. The mother laid this year's first egg on Feb. 17, and since it takes about 35 days for bald eagle eggs to hatch, the first eaglet's due date is Friday.
Don't worry if you can't watch the webcam all day, though — each eaglet will spend roughly 12 to 48 hours emerging from its eggshell, and there will still be two more after this one. Those eggs were laid on Feb. 20 and Feb. 24, so both will likely hatch within the next two weeks. Once they do, they'll stay in the nest for about three months, potentially offering an encore of last summer's hit "reality show," which became the most-watched live video in UStream history with 200 million views.
The eagle parents have been together since the winter of 2007-'08, when the mother was estimated to be about 4 years old. They've successfully hatched and fledged 11 eaglets since then, including three each of the last three years. Their nest is located near a state-owned fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa, about 80 feet high in a tree on private land. According to the Raptor Resource Project, which runs the webcam, the nest is 6 feet wide, 5 feet deep and weighs 1.3 tons. Since the couple returned to their nest in December, more than 11 million people have already tuned in to watch.
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