HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Mother Nature has delivered once again, with two American Bald Eagle chicks cracking their eggs and stretching their tiny wings this weekend, just five weeks after they first appeared in the nest atop a sycamore tree at Duke Farms.
The two eggs first appeared in the adult Eagles nest Feb. 20 and 23, with the first egg hatching Saturday at 7:59 a.m. folllowed by the second at 11:50 a.m. on Sunday.
The Eagles nest sits atop an 80-foot Sycamore tree at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, a familiar site to millions of online visitors. The predators have achieved "rock star" status in classrooms and homes across the state and the country thanks to video cameras that have been installed overhead with live feeds available online.
The number of visitors has skyrocketed over the past 24 hours.
The link to the Duke Farms "Eagle Cam" is https://dukefarms.org/making-an-impact/eagle-cam/ or https://dukefarms.org/eaglecam.
It usually takes five weeks for the eggs to hatch, with the birds growing rapidly, ready to fly 10-12 weeks after hatching.
The adult Eagles continue to pay close attention to their offspring after warming the eggs the past five weeks. They will now focus on feeding their young. Trout and other fish can be seen in the nest. The parents take turns ripping pieces of flesh from the fish and placing it in the beaks of the tiny offspring.
Withing 5-6 weeks, the fluffy, white down on the young chicks will be replaced by darker feathers.
The eagle nest at Duke Farms was discovered by Duke Farms staff in the fall of 2004. In the fall of 2012, Hurricane Sandy's 70+ mph winds tore off the upper half of the nest tree, destroying the nest completely. The pair built a new nest 100 feet south of the original site in late December 2012, which is still actively used.
The so-called "Eagle Cam" transmitted the first video in March 2008. In the fall of 2013, the camera was moved to the new nest tree. The camera was struck by lightning shortly before the eaglets fledged in 2015, but a new camera with infrared for night viewing was installed prior to the 2016 nesting season.
The camera is positioned to view the nest from above. The camera can be maneuvered remotely to pan, tilt and zoom.
A total of 23 eagle chicks have been raised and fledged from the nest at Duke Farms since 2005.
Duke Farms hosts the eagle camera and the internet connection. The Endangered and Nongame Species Program and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ conduct on-site banding and provide biological consulting and support.
How many eagle nests are in NJ?
In 1973, when the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act was passed, there was just one nesting pair in a remote forest in Cumberland County. In 2016, there were more than 150 active nests monitored in New Jersey. To learn more about eagle nests in NJ, visit The Division of Fish and Wildlife to read the annual Bald Eagle Report. The state’s eagle population would not be thriving without the efforts of the dedicated eagle volunteers who observe nests, report sightings, and help protect critical habitat.