DECORAH | A bald eagle emerged from its shell to join its celebrity parents in the spotlight Wednesday.

Enduring one of the worst winters on record, the first eaglet — designated D18 — hatched at 9:22 a.m. Wednesday. The eaglet got its name because it’s the 18th eagle to live at the Decorah nest site.

The moment was streamed live online around the world to thousands watching the Decorah eagle cam. Since 2010, millions of viewers have watched eggs appear, hatch and a downy brood grow.

This year’s unusually harsh winter had Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, watching closely. He was afraid the eggs wouldn’t survive.

“I aged about 100 years in the last month,” he said. “I was really concerned because I have seen them fail before.”

The first egg was laid about the same time temperatures bottomed out around 20 degrees below zero. Relentless cold snaps followed as the eagles attempted to incubate their three eggs.

“That nest, when she laid the eggs, was an absolute ice cube,” Anderson said. “To add insult to injury, she got covered with about 10 inches of snow.”

“The fact that an eaglet emerged is remarkable,” Anderson said. “I’m pleased we got a baby eagle to show the world.”

Anderson knows people watching have a vested interest in the eagles. “People have adopted them,” he said. “I think a lot of people would be heart broke if none of them hatched.”

The other two eggs are more likely to hatch since the first one survived, Anderson said.

The first glimpses of the eaglet have drawn thousands of viewers to the eagle cam. It also kept Anderson almost too busy to enjoy the moment.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” Anderson said.

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To see video from the Decorah eagle cam, visit wcfcourier.com.

General assignment reporter for the Courier

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