Bald eagle lost its only chick after the nest fell to the ground during a snowstorm

 Bald eagle lost its only chick after the nest fell to the ground during a snowstorm

Nongame Wildlife EagleCam, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A bald eagle that worked hard through the winter storms to protect its eggs, even refusing to move as the snow built up on top of it, lost its newborn chick on Sunday when its 2,000-pound nest fell to the ground.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources revealed on Facebook that the chick, hatched on March 26, was found dead on Sunday after a few hours of looking.

The Minnesota eagle family came to public notice after one of the eagles was found partly buried under a pile of snow, with only its head sticking out, as it stayed in its nest and waited out a storm to keep its two eggs safe.

The male and female incubated the eggs alternately, while the male also provided food and kept an eye out for potential threats or predators.

One of the eggs had cracked on March 1, leaving a solitary egg to hatch at the end of the month. It died a week later.

Officials said they were unclear how the nest dropped in the first place, but that a storm the day before caused a buildup of snow that was too weighty for the tree limb that held the nest.

“The branch was dead and the nest was over 20 years old and weighed over 2,000 pounds,” the state’s DNR wrote in a Facebook post. “In the area and neighborhood near the nest, there were many fallen trees and branches from the heavy, wet snow.”

The DNR stated that even if the bald eagle parents locate another nest, it is doubtful that they will lay another egg this year.

“Even if they have an alternate (which is likely, eagles tend to build multiple nests in the same area for this exact reason) our nesting season is too short for them to have another brood,” the DNR wrote in an update post on Monday.

However, because eagles are protective, the couple may attempt to reestablish a nest in the same area. Officials revealed on Monday that the couple had already been seen mating.

“Eagles mate for many reasons, including bonding. So this is a good sign that the pair’s bond is strong,” the DNR wrote.

Baby eagle deaths are typically very poor. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, eagles die at a rate of more than 50% during their first year of existence, and only one out of every ten eagles survive to become adults.

In recent years, bald eaglets died of a range of causes, including hypothermia and nest failures.

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