CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Eagle keepers at Carolina Raptor Center have confirmed that Savannah, a 15-year-old bald eagle, and resident raptor laid her first egg of the eagle nesting season Tuesday afternoon.
This about the time of the month that she has laid her clutch of eggs in past years with the exception of last year, when the first egg was laid on January 4.
Bald eagles typically lay eggs a few days apart. There is a possibility that Savannah could lay a second egg.
Observers will see Savannah sitting on the clutch of eggs, turning the eggs from time to time and trading off with her mate Derek who will share the responsibility for sitting on the nest. The incubation period for bald eagles is 33-35 days so if the eggs hatch they should hatch on or around March 2.
Savannah and Derek chose the location for the nest a few years ago when they first started laying eggs.
“The location of the nest actually doesn’t make sense – it is in an area close to the trail and people," said CRC staffer and eagle expert Mathias Engelmann. “We have worked to make it safer for the eggs and young by building the nest box and placing it up on a raised platform, and we recently added in materials like leaves to cushion the eggs.”
The next three weeks are a critical period for the eggs as Derek and Savannah protect and incubate them. The aviary will be closed for the next few days so that CRC staff can erect blinding material so that they will not be disturbed as they sit on the nest.
Savannah and Derek successfully produced young for a number of years – four of their offspring have been released.
If you were among the thousands of people who watched the EagleCam last year, you will have seen Savannah and Derek building their nest and trading shifts to sit on the three eggs that Savannah laid. (An eagle egg is about 1 ½ the size of a chicken egg and tapered at both ends.) In 2010, two chicks hatched, and one survived to be released into the wild.
The eagle Noah was released last year in early May. She was equipped with a tracking device, but has not been heard from since May 17 when she disappeared in a remote area of Virginia with spotty cell phone coverage. The staff at Carolina Raptor Center still checks tracking device data weekly to see if she will reappear.
Noah was named for Lance Corporal Noah Pier who lost his life defending our freedom in Afghanistan around the same time that the eaglet was hatched in February 2010.