NORFOLK - The eagle population of Norfolk grew by one as the first egg of the 2010 season hatched in the nest Thursday at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
The chick emerged at 1:10 p.m. It's not clear whether the egg which hatched first was the first or second egg laid.
The clutch of eggs includes two others, the first of which was laid in a snow-filled nest on January 31st. Biologist Reese Lukei, a researcher at the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary, says that first egg may no longer be viable.
"The nest had six inches of snow on it when the egg was laid so that possibility is there. We just have to be prepared for that," said Lukei.
Lukie said that the first egg, at 41 days past laying, may have reached the land of no return. Lukei confirmed that a second egg appears to be "pipping" Friday afternoon, meaning it was beginning to hatch.
The pair of eagles at Norfolk Botanical Garden is familiar to online bird-watchers around the world, thanks to Eagle Cam, a Web cam trained on the nest around the clock.
Mary Young travelled to Norfolk from Detroit, where she watches the Eagle Cam on he computer at work.
"I just started (watching) at the beginning of February. I look at work and my boss allows us to have it on at work now. And we have several people who are watching now," said Young.
"I think it's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and I see why people say they are 'Eagleholics.' This is the first time I have ever seen an eagle fly over me here in the wild, and I think it is just overwhelming."
This is the fifth year the Eagle Cam has been hosted by WVEC.com, in partnership with Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries.
This pair of eagles has been very productive, laying a clutch of three eggs for the past five seasons. Three eggs were lost in 2008 when the eggs were left unattended in cold temperatures. The pair then laid another clutch of two eggs.
Other Web cams on WVEC.com show peregrine falcon nests in Virginia. In a the James River Bridge nest, two eggs have been laid in the past week.