Bald eaglet hatch begins at Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility in St. Patrick’s County Park

Author: Brandi Wampler

Of the three bald eagle eggs laid at the University of Notre Dame’s Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) in St. Patrick’s County Park, the first hatched on Saturday, April 4, 2020. The other two eaglets are expected to hatch in the coming days. The parents, a pair of bald eagles, which claimed the former red-tailed hawk nest in 2015, began laying the three eggs at the end of February.

The world has been able to view the bald eagles and eggs via an in-nest eagle cam mounted in the tree above the nest. Installed in fall 2017 at ND-LEEF, the camera allows viewers to watch as the nest is built, as the eggs are being laid and incubated, and as the eaglets hatch and reach the fledging stage.

“Over the next few months, eagle cam viewers can expect to see lots of interesting prey items being brought to the nest and the eaglets growing and learning to fly for the first time,” said Brett Peters, assistant director of ND-LEEF. “To help the community engage with and learn more about the next steps in the eaglets’ lives, ND-LEEF will host a live chat discussing the eagles and the eagle cam.”

Thursday, April 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST, ND-LEEF will host its first eagle chat with Peters, who manages the in-nest eagle cam and supports the social media channels for ND-LEEF and Evie Kirkwood, director of St. Joseph County Parks. All, including members of the South Bend community, are encouraged to tune in to the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative’s YouTube Channel to hear from Peters and submit questions about the eagles and eaglets.

The eaglets are expected to leave the nest at the end of the summer. In August, ND-LEEF will continue construction of two new watersheds, which originally began in the fall of 2019. Following federal guidelines, construction was paused during the eagle breeding season in order to allow the eagles to lay their eggs and fledge their young without being disturbed.

The new watersheds were shifted about 300 feet east of where they were initially planned to minimize any disturbance made to the nesting locations of bald eagles that return to ND-LEEF each spring. Once finished, the watershed construction project will double the facility’s capacity, allow it to host additional researchers and support more education and outreach.

ND-LEEF is a globally unique research facility, supported by the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, that houses two engineered experimental watersheds, each consisting of an interconnected pond, stream and wetland. Scientists use ND-LEEF to conduct experiments in a field-like setting but in a more controlled environment than one can find in nature. Both experimental watersheds are roughly the length and width of a football field and located five miles north of campus on six acres of land within St. Patrick’s County Park. 

To watch the live, in-nest eagle cam or to learn more about ND-LEEF eagles, please visit environmentalchange.nd.edu/eagles, which now includes nest video highlights, facts about eaglet development, and more. Fans of the eagle cam are encouraged to share any exciting nest activity by using #NDEagleWatch and by tagging @NDLEEF on Twitter.

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

Originally published by Brandi Klingerman at news.nd.edu on April 06, 2020.