Bald eagles are on their nests, incubating their one-to-three eggs. Although there isn’t much activity at this point, what activity there is, is extremely important to the survival of the embryos inside the eggs. Maintaining the temperature of the eggs is crucial. Bald eagles must incubate their eggs for 35 days. During this time, the eggs must remain at a steady temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If the incubating parent is frightened away from the nest or leaves the nest even very briefly, the egg may become too cold or too hot, depending on the weather.
During the entire incubation period, the eagle parents continuously turn the eggs with their feet and beak. The main function of this action is to prevent the embryos from sticking to the inside of the egg shell. In the early days of incubation, it’s important that the embryo floats inside the egg while the membranes that support its life are growing and developing. Turning optimizes membrane growth. Eventually the membranes will be pressed to each other and to the shell. If these membranes adhere too soon the chick will not be able to move into the hatching position later and get out of the egg. To see a nesting bald eagle turning eggs, go to http://www.eagles.org/dceaglecam/.
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