2nd Hanover eagle egg makes debut, commotion on Sunday

Katherine Ranzenberger

Commotion overtook the eagles nest in Heidelberg Township shortly after 4:45 p.m. Sunday. A new egg had been laid, and a juvenile eagle got too close for Mom and Dad’s comfort.

Two eggs lay in the eagles nest near Hanover in this screen grab taken in February 2016.

“I was just leaving, and I saw a juvenile eagle, probably from last year’s clutch, that went directly for the egg,” said Karen Lippy, a local bird expert. “The eagles definitely sounded a warning to leave.”

Two fuzzy little eaglets will likely join the Hanover community in the next month or so. Since 2004, the parents have shared a nest and raised eaglets near Codorus State Park in Hanover.

“She made us wait a little longer this year,” Lippy said about the first egg’s appearance on Thursday, Feb. 18. “They always lay about the same time each year, typically within five days of the previous year.”

Momma and Papa eagle have an average clutch of eggs this year with the addition of the second egg on Sunday.

Timeline: The eagles will take turns sitting on the eggs and keeping them warm for about 35 days, at which point they’ll hatch, assuming the eggs are still viable, according to Wendy Looker, environmental education specialist for Codorus State Park.

Mom and Dad will take care of their eaglets for about eight more weeks before the little birds fledge, taking their first flight from the nest. Eventually, the parents won’t allow the young ones back in the nest.

Last year, Momma eagle practiced what Lippy called “delayed hatching,” where she’d expose the first egg to the cold temperatures to cool it down, slowing down the development process for a little while.

This led to the eggs hatching within eight hours of each other, Lippy said.

Eagle Cam: Looker said these are the same eagles who became celebrities on the eagle cam last year. Eagles are tied to the place they nested more than to each other, she said.

“They’re really loyal to the territory, to the site” of the nest, so they keep coming back to it, she said.

Even though there are two eggs in the nest, it’s not guaranteed both siblings will survive. Because they’re probably going to hatch a few days apart, the elder eaglet is likely to be larger and therefore will have an advantage in getting the food the parents bring to the nest.

Eagles don’t directly feed their offspring, Looker said. They bring the food to the nest and leave it there for the eaglets.

This indirect feeding leads to one sibling becoming bigger than the other, eventually beating out the smaller one for food, Looker said. It’s not necessarily one sibling killing the other; it’s just nature working itself out.

“We can’t attribute human emotions and motives to their behavior,” Looker said. “These things go on all the time, but you don’t always have the front seat we’re privy to. People have to be accepting of that.”

She added it’s better for the eagles to have one strong eaglet than two sickly eaglets.

Viewers can check online at HDOnTap.com for the eagle cams. This year, the group added a night-vision camera feed so people can watch even after the sun goes down.

Lippy is planning to set up telescopes to view the nest on site as well. She will be at the park from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

People can come to the park and look at the eagles but are reminded to follow the rules and do it safely. The nest is located on private property, and state law mandates people stay back 1,000 feet. Anyone who does not can be fined.