Minnesota's famous bald eagle couple looks like it's getting ready for some eggs.
Both the male and female birds have been visiting the nest "quite regularly" since November when the Eagle Cam was turned on, the DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program said in an update this week. And the larger one – which is probably the female – has checked in almost every day.
And while she hasn't laid an egg yet, she and the male having been doing some "nestorations."
"Both birds have brought prey to the nest and either shared or eaten it themselves. They both like to rearrange sticks in the nest and bring new 'furniture' and decorations into the nest," the DNR wrote. "These behaviors are indicative of pairing and brooding behavior – meaning they will probably lay eggs soon."
Females usually lay one to three eggs each year, usually several days apart. If eggs are laid, they incubate for about 35 days with the male and female taking turns keeping them warm.
This is the fifth year of the EagleCam. Here's the livestream (and there's no sound on it, FYI):
These are a couple of ... early birds
And "soon" is just fine.
The pair – which the agency is pretty sure is the same that's used the nest the past four years – is known for laying eggs earlier than is typical for most eagles.
Last year the first one was spotted Jan. 25, and the couple raised three chicks to fledging. The two years prior it was Jan. 19 and Feb. 14, according to the FAQ, and two eaglets fledged each year. In 2013, they laid eggs the first week of January and none of the babies made it.
This year, the DNR says "it seems they’ve learned their lesson about nesting too early," adding: "We hope, for their eggs’ sake, that they wait until at least February to lay eggs, but it’s up to them, not us."
Nature is scary sometimes
Worth remembering: This is nature and eagles are carnivores.
“Natural struggles will occur and some of the feeding or other wild bird behaviors may be difficult to watch,” the DNR warns.
For example, in 2014 an injured eaglet floundered around in the nest for a bit. Officials eventually intervened and plucked it for a check-up, but it was seriously hurt and had to be euthanized. That same year, a classroom of kids was watching as the male eagle kicked out the one-legged female in favor of a new girlfriend.
Bald eagles nearly went extinct in the 1970s, but they’ve made a comeback since DDT was banned – the DNR says Minnesota has more eagles than any of the 48 contiguous states.
The Nongame Wildlife Program needs help
The Nongame Wildlife Program works to protect more than 700 animal species in Minnesota, and operate almost entirely on donations – but barely get any now.
“If every Minnesota tax payer donated just $1, we would be so much better off,” the program wrote. “But, sadly, less than 3 percent of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to our program. Those who donate are generous, yet the donations have decreased steadily over the decades and we are in serious financial trouble.”