HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- For the first time in five years, Savannah and Derek are caring for two eaglets inside their nest at the Carolina Raptor Center.
Just hours old, the eaglets look like little cotton balls in the nest.
"All fluffy and gray and almost in 24 hours they're going to get their first feeding," said Mathias Engelmann, senior rehab coordinator at Carolina Raptor Center.
The first egg hatched on Friday. The second on Sunday.
If you visit Carolina Raptor Center it's really amazing the bald eagles in person. But unfortunately you won't be able to see Savannah and Derek sitting on the nest. They keep in blocked off to protect them and the eagles.
An small observatory is attached to the aviary. It’s closed to the public, but they let us inside to look through a small window that overlooks the nest. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. We were there as Savannah gave her eaglets their first feeding.
“How many times do you get to see a bald eagle that big, that close?” Engelmann said. “It's a privilege.”
Just like in the wild, the eaglets are very fragile. But they’re growing stronger. When they first hatched the eaglets weighed about two ounces each.
“They're going to grow up incredible fast. It's going to be amazing to watch over the next 6-8 weeks,” Engelmann said.
In 10 weeks the eaglets will be full size. They won’t get the white feathers on their heads until they are about five-years-old.
Savannah and Derek will continue to sit on the eaglets to keep them warm.
“They have to be careful with their huge feet so they don’t accidently injure their own young,” Engelmann said.
In the next few weeks the eaglets will be large enough to regular their own body temperature and they won’t need the protection of Savannah and Derek. But the next three weeks is critical for the eaglets to survive.
“We want to release the, that’s the goal, to get healthy birds,” Engelmann said.
But just like in the wild, not every young survives.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the next 10 weeks,” Engelmann said.
You can purchase an eagle research experience for $250 at Carolina Raptor Center. Up to 10 people will be allowed inside the observatory to watch the eaglets. For details, call 704-875-6521.