SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Belle and Shep, the Bald Eagles pair made famous via live video stream at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, have lost their eaglets for the year.Two eaglets that hatched earlier in the season died over the last several weeks.
Steve Chase, division chief for the NCTC’s education and outreach programs, says the first bird hatched last month but something did not seem right.
“I did see it on the cam moving around a little bit but it wasn’t acting like a typical eaglet would,” he told WEPM News.
The second eaglet hatched out well and seemed healthy but died shortly after the first.
Chase said they aren’t sure why the second bird perished, but speculated it may have been cold and wet conditions that occurred shortly after it hatched.
He said they’ll never know for sure.
While not impossible, Chase said it is unlikely the eagles will lay more eggs this year.
“They have been observed mating in the past week,” he said. “But just because they’re trying, maybe, for more eggs doesn’t mean it is going to happen.”
Belle typically lay eggs in February for a spring hatch so Chase said it would be late in the season.
This is not the first time an eaglet has been, but with the popularity of the live video stream Chase said it is hitting a lot of folks pretty hard.
“People are upset and sad for the birds losing their little eaglet.”
Chase said they’ve received numerous messages of sympathy and condolence since the birds died.
Although they work hard not to anthropomorphize the birds, Chase admits many of the thousands of viewers of the web cam consider the birds family.
The wildlife cam was put in the nest at NCTC thanks to a partnership with The Outdoor Channel.
The Outdoor Channel also provides the NCTC with a website for the stream.