Animals

Winter Storm Doesn't Deter Nesting Eagles

Audubon Society says the birds have evolved to survive in the snow.


Photos courtesy of Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania

The winter storm may have slowed your commute or canceled school today, but humans weren't the only ones dealing with the elements. The bald eagles in Hays, Pa. also had to tough out the storm as they protected the three eggs in their nest. But don't worry--you don't have to be too concerned about the birds or the eggs in the snow.

Click here to watch the live stream of the Hays eagle nest.

"They've evolved to be in this weather, and they choose to have their eggs this time of year," said Jim Bonner, Executive Director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania . "They're able to get through this without much difficulty.

Bonner says the eagles are able to keep the eggs at 100 degrees Fahrenheit even in the snow. And while the birds on the webcam may look cold or uncomfortable covered in snow, their internal temperature is actually quite warm.

"The feathers are wonderful natural insulators," Bonner said. "That's why you'll stay warm in a goose down jacket."

Bonner said the feathers are perfect tor trapping warm air.

If you're wondering why the eagles lay their eggs in the middle of the winter, Bonner says it is all about survival. It takes just over a month (35 days) for the fertilized eggs to hatch, so laying them in mid February means they will hatch just at the weather starts warming up in late March/early April.

"They want the eggs to hatch when there is an abundance of food available, making it easy to hunt," Bonner said.

It also means the chicks will be able to leave the nest in the summer and have months of warm weather to grow stronger and hunt for food before the cold weather returns.

Right now, there are three eggs in the nest. Last year, the female laid three eggs, but only one hatched.

Meanwhile, the bald eagle pair in Harmar has mated and is working on their nest. The Audubon Society says the Harmer eagles typically lay their eggs about 10 days after the Hays eagles.

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