Mr. and Mrs. Humboldt Bay Eagle welcomed the newest member of the family on Saturday morning after the first of their two bald eaglets hatched from its confining egg.
Pacific Northwestern Biological senior biologist Sandra Hunt-von Arb said the eaglet first started cracking the egg -- a process called pipping -- on Thursday, broke a hole in the egg on Friday and fully hatched Saturday morning.
"It was a little on the longer end," Hunt-von Arb said. "Hatching is a process. It can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. But it wasn't at the too long stage."
Two cameras placed above the nest streamed live video to the Institute of Wildlife Studies' Humboldt Bay Eagle website, allowing viewers from across the nation to view the struggle between hatchling and egg in its entirety. This is the second year the nests have been live streamed to the world, but Hunt-von Arb said that viewers got an upgrade this year.
"We have a pan tilt zoom camera this year, which allows us to zoom in and out, whereas last year we only have a fixed camera with very little zoom," she said. "Last year we had a fundraiser go out to the public, and it was pretty evident from the beginning that they wanted the best they could get."
Since the chick first started to pip Thursday morning, Hunt-von Arb said the videos have been continuously monitored by Humboldt Bay Eagle biologists to ensure they capture the moment it breaks through. Hunt-von Arb anticipated that the second egg will begin pipping Saturday night or by today.
Mr. and Mrs. Humboldt Bay Eagle have been nesting at the same location -- which is not disclosed to protect the birds -- since 2006, and were the first bald eagles to nest on Humboldt Bay in over 40 years. While Hunt-von Arb said they may not be the same couple each time, she said the female is most likely the same mother who had two chicks last year, due to her characteristic "wonky feather."
Since their arrival, the couple has fledged 12 chicks.
A news release from the Humboldt Bay Eagle biologists in March stated that bald eagles typically lay one to three eggs per season, with eggs being laid about two to three days apart. Full incubation of the eggs by the mother -- and sometimes father -- lasts about 35 days before the eggs hatch, but this can be delayed if a second egg is expected to be laid.
The nest cameras were made possible by a multi-organizational partnership including the Institute of Wildlife Studies, the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, private land owners and Eco-Ascension.
Wildlife care center and Bird Ally X co-director Monte Merrick said the center helped obtain grant funding for the project through the Sequoia Park Zoo, which was used to obtain cables and a converter for the live streaming cameras.
Though the organization has already played its part in the project, Merrick said he is glad to see the fruits of their effort.
"Let's face it, this is a beautiful habitat," Merrick said. "It's wonderful to see them coming back."
ON THE WEB: Watch the Humboldt Bay Eagle live stream at www.iws.org/hbe.html