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Camera Live-Streams Baby Eagles From Richmond

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Thousands of people worldwide are watching two newly hatched bald eagles in Virginia's capital city, thanks to a camera that live-streams the view of the nest online. The live stream is chronicling these eagle's early days of life, and the larger species' dramatic recovery of the past decades. 

Viewers can see and hear the nest, which is located on private property near the James River in Richmond. A few days after the chicks hatched, the mother eagle can be seen feeding and preening her young. People from more than 100 countries have already watched online, according to the Center for Conservation Biology

The center is a joint research project of Virginia Commonwealth University and The College of William and Mary. It has been tracking this eagle pair since the late 1990s and Virginia's bald eagle population for decades.

"Virginia was down to about 20 pairs in the early 1970s," says center director Bryan Watts. "Last year, we monitored 730 breeding pairs in the state. The population now is probably over 800. It is truly one of the greatest conservation success stories that our country has had."

That success is largely the result of a ban on the insecticide DDT and federal protection of eagle nests. Watts says with that success, however, comes a new challenge as each new generation looks for feeding and breeding territory.

"And we're to the point where we're at near saturation," Watts says. "And so we have all these birds that are sort of roaming around looking for breeding space. Once you reach that point, the young birds that are becoming of reproductive age they begin to compete for existing territories."

That is the main reason researchers are monitoring this nest and many others in the lower Chesapeake Bay region, to document attempts by younger eagles to raid and take over the nests and territories of established ones. 

For the moment, it provides another excellent opportunity for researchers -- and the world -- to see how this experienced set of eagle parents raises its young.

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