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Hatched! Last Baby Eagle Hatches Live on the Web

Like most reality stars, these cute chicks became famous without doing much of anything.

But if you're a bald eagle, just being is more than enough to draw a crowd. Thousands of people watched as the last of the three web-celebrity baby eagles hatched yesterday evening (April 6).

A wildly popular webcam has been focused on the eagle's nest in Decorah, Iowa. The eagle parents have been willing exhibitionists, ignoring the camera while taking turns sitting tight on top of their newborn chicks and final egg — with the occasional pecking at an upturned muskrat carcass.

After days of anticipation, a crack in the third egg was revealed when one of the parents got up to stretch around 5:30 yesterday afternoon (the mom and dad look the same to the non-expert eye). A few hours later, the shell split open.

Starting on Feb. 25, the mother laid three eggs in eight days. The first bird hatched in the early morning hours on April 2, and was caught on camera by members of the nonprofit preservation group Raptor Resource Project. The webcam drew more than 100,000 eagle watchers, temporarily crashing the website.

The second eagle chick hatched a day later around the same time.

There's plenty of room in the nest for the family — a good thing because the chicks won't be leaving anytime soon. Built in 2007, the nest is extremely large. Perched 80 feet (24 meters) high, the nest is about 6 feet (1.8 m) across, and the same distance deep. It weighs 1.5 tons. In other words, the nest is larger than an old Volkswagen Beetle.

The parents have been together since the winter of 2007-2008, when the mom was about 4 years old. They successfully hatched and fledged two eaglets in 2008, then three in both 2009 and 2010.

Watch the eagle chicks live on the webcam here.

Email OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at bisrael@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.