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Time to See the Eagles Soar

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The birth of two baby bald eagles at the National Arboretum has sparked interest in America's national bird, and they can be spotted around the Chesapeake Bay. (Veronica Carter)
The birth of two baby bald eagles at the National Arboretum has sparked interest in America's national bird, and they can be spotted around the Chesapeake Bay. (Veronica Carter)
March 28, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - All eyes on are the nation's capital, and not just to keep watch on lawmakers. There's a pair of newly-hatched baby bald eagles at the U.S. National Arboretum, and many are finding it addictive to watch the parents take care of them.

Dad and Mom are known as "Mr. President" and "First Lady." They built a nest at the top of a tall Tulip Poplar tree, and a live webcam was set up for everyone to see.

Janna Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, says the eaglets' birth has created renewed interest in the national bird and it's the perfect time of the year to see them around the bay.

"There are lots of nesting pairs in our region now, and it's very likely that you can go to certain places and actually see them," says Davis. "It's the time of the year to do it, because the parents are busy right now, sitting on eggs. There have been a few that have hatched a little early."

When the pilgrims settled in the region, there were up to a half-million bald eagles, but by the 1950s, only 412 nesting pairs were left in the United States.

Davis says the decline was largely because of pesticides, specifically DDT, which thinned out the eggshells so newborns couldn't mature.

She notes the banning of DDT and passage of the Endangered Species Act helped make the bald eagle a success story.

"But I think the story of the eagle is one that shows us that, with a lot of hard work and with the right policy changes, that don't have to have a negative economic impact, we can actually turn the ship," she says.

Today, there are nesting bald eagle pairs in every state except Hawaii.

Davis says bald eagles have a human-like quality when it comes to their chicks.

"Both parents share in child-rearing duties," says Davis. "And both the male and the female will go hunt and feed the chicks; and they take turns sort of, literally, minding the nest."

The National Arboretum's eaglets are known right now as "DC2" and "DC3," and will be given official names soon. The webcam, at eagles.org, is live 24 hours a day.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD