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04-13-2019 09:07 PM
A Rare Bald Eagle Trio—Two Dads and a Mom—Captivates Webcam Fans
In a tall tree situated on the Mississippi River in Fulton, Illinois, three eagles, a female and two males, are looking after three downy eaglets—keeping them warm, feeding them freshly caught catfish, and herding them away from the edge of the nest. The three parents take turns hunting and nest-sitting, often calling to one another for assistance.
Bald Eagles aren't a rare sight at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, but three of them tending to the same nest is, especially when the trio includes two males, which are typically territorial. What’s even more remarkable is that the males stayed together and courted a new female after their first mate perished.
Why and how the two males tolerate one another isn’t known, nor is the parentage of the chicks. But the young are certainly benefitting from the extra set of eyes and talons keeping watch and taking care.
Life in this nest wasn’t always so supportive. In 2012, when the original pair—Valor I (male) and Hope (female)—began nesting at Lock and Dam 13 on the Mississippi River, Valor I wasn’t a very good partner or father. He was irresponsible about incubating the eggs and feeding the eaglets, which were really his only two jobs. (The whole affair has been livestreamed on a webcam installed in 2011 by the nonprofit Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge.)
“Normally they will switch roles, but what happened was Hope would sit on the nest for a long, long time,” says Pam Steinhaus, the visitor services manager at the refuge. “Valor I would never bring food in, so she’d have to get up and leave to hunt.” While she was gone, he’d sit on the nest for maybe 10 minutes before getting up and abandoning his offspring.
04-13-2019 09:34 PM
I’ve been watching the trio nest for the past three years and find it so interesting. Last year the female fought off an intruder eagle and she didn’t come back to the nest (people looked for her in case she was injured but never found her) which was very sad but the two dads took care of the babies until they fledged. So at the end of last year’s season I wondered if the two males would find another female and sure enough they did. 😃
04-13-2019 10:04 PM
04-13-2019 10:17 PM
Maybe the Baby Daddy is her ex, and they decided on a modern-day co-parenting arrangement with the new hubby. 😉😉😉
04-13-2019 10:27 PM
I think it's fairly unusual to have a nest with three eaglets; more often, there are one or two. So, with three mouths to feed, it's lucky there are three adults!
04-13-2019 11:18 PM
What a wonderful, delightful story. Not without humor, and a modern day comparison to some men I have known. The bald eagle being far more noble than some, lol. I nearly roared out loud at Valor's inept attitude and demeanor as a Dad. I love where the article said, " life in this nest wasn't always so supportive. He was irresponsible about incubating the eggs and feeding the eaglets, which were really his only two jobs". Lol. They said " Valor 1 would never bring food in, so she would have to get up and leave to hunt." Poor thing!!! When she was gone, he would sit in the nest maybe 10 mins while , before getting up and abandoning his offspring." Thank God for Mr Valor 2. This speaks highly of the effientcy of a blended family working together. Everyone can do somethinig to get the job done!!!
Oh Good Lord, life isn't too much different in the human kingdom than from the animal kingdom at times.
i was just so happy they all got a long, which was so unusual. I think Valor 1 might have been an extremely passive Bumbling Bald Eagle, but a good person in his heart. And Valor 2. He was just so accepting. Saw a job to ne done, and did it. They all worked in harmony. Aahhhh sweet life.
Thank you for sharing. The article was just captivating, and very well written.
04-13-2019 11:45 PM
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04-14-2019 07:30 AM
i am an eagle nest watcher - got hooked a year ago.
i think with cams overlooking nests now that we are just learning about eagle behavior. for example, the Big Bear nest had one Mama and Papa last year. this year Mama was wooed by a younger male and nested with him- despite the adage that eagles mate for life.
also 2 of the nests at iws.org have 3 eaglets this year. DDT damage over the years may have distorted our view of things and as eagles are recovering their procreative abilities, we will learn more.
live and learn!
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