March 25, 2009

3rd chick born to Virginia eagle pair

A third bald eagle chick broke out of its shell Wednesday at a Virginia botanical garden.

Biologists watching the eagles and chicks at the Norfolk Botanical Garden had been worried about the vitality of the third chick because it poked its first hole on Sunday, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Most chicks emerge completely within 24 hours, but this one waited almost three days.

Stephen Living, a biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, wrote in his blog that the youngest chick was paying attention to the world around it soon after hatching, raising its head as its siblings were fed.

The youngest eaglet is still a bit damp and tired but the fact that it is interested in the food being offered is a good sign, he said.

The other chicks hatched Saturday and Sunday. The three eggs were laid Feb. 10, Feb. 13 and Feb. 17.

Bald eagles came close to extinction because of the pesticide DDT, which caused thin egg shells. Since DDT was banned, the birds have been making a remarkable comeback with help from captive hatching programs.