Folks over at Tracy Aviary are beaming proud smiles these days over their new addition.
The aviary now boasts a newly born golden eagle - one of only a handful to have ever hatched in captivity. The baby eagle cracked its shell Wednesday night."We knew something was going on because both eagles were bringing greenery over to the nest and looking down into it," said senior keeper Steve Chindgren.
"There's only five other places in the world that have ever bred golden eagles in captivity," he boasted.
Mother eagle wasn't being too generous Saturday, allowing few, if any peeks at her newborn. She crouched down in her home - a nest made by aviary workers designed just like those in the wilderness. Father eagle stood guard, looking somewhat concerned about those snapping pictures.
"We've been working to breed eagles now for 10 years," Chindgren said. Both parents were crippled in the wilderness and can no longer fly. The father suffered a gunshot wound and the mother is believed to have flown into a power line - one of her wings was completely clipped off.
"It must be a real satisfying feeling for these eagles to fulfill their biological purpose," he said. "It shows that they're actually enjoying their lives here."
Workers at the aviary feed the birds mice. The parents tenderly tear the mice into little pieces to feed it to the growing baby eagle.
Grenville Roles, curator at the aviary, said the small eagle will be much easier to see in about three weeks, when it will be sitting in the nest on its own. The bird will reach its full size and weight in just 13 weeks, he said.
Chindgren said the new eagle will be kept at the aviary and trained for future bird shows. Any additional eagles, however, will be released in Eastern wilderness sites, where golden eagles are rare.