Eaglets Take First Flight at National Arboretum

Originally published by NBC Washington in May 2016.

It appears that Mr. President and The First Lady are empty-nesters once more after the first flights of their 11-week-old eaglets on Sunday.

Video captured by the beloved DC Eagle Cam shows the eaglet, Freedom, leaping from the nest in the National Arboretum for the first time on Sunday afternoon. By Monday, neither Freedom nor her brother Liberty were visible in the livestream.

The eaglets’ first flight — called “fledging” — is a typical developmental milestone for eagles at 11-to-13 weeks old, according to American Eagle Foundation president Al Cecere. Freedom and Liberty were well-equipped for their adventure thanks to their brown “flight feathers” and their successes in tearing and eating their own food, Cecere said in a statement.

But Mr. President and The First Lady are not quite off the hook yet. Like new college students who head home on the weekend for parental laundry services, Freedom and Liberty will likely hang around the nest as they ease into life as independent adults.

“Once these juvenile eagles make their first flights, they’ll probably stick around the area for a few days or even weeks, returning to the nest for a free meal now and then while still learning how to successfully hunt on their own,” Cecere said.

Over 50 million people have tuned in to the Eagle Cam to bask in the adorable, fuzzy happenings of the eaglets in the months since their birth, and Cecere assured the livestream lovers that the birds are never far from the nest, even if they’re not on camera.

The not-so-little ones still have plenty of growing to do, too, as Cecere said it will take about four or five years for them to reach full maturity, including their white head and yellow beak.

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