Answer to a Reader’s Bald Eagle Question

Eagle-nest_2016-01-06_122045Last week,  a follower of this blog wrote:

“I saw a photo online (right) from an eagle nest cam in the Midwest that showed three mature eagles tending the nest. 

“The text said they were two male and one female.  Isn’t this unusual?  Why isn’t the second male chased from the nest?  Is this an older fledgling?  What’s up?”

Great question. For the answer, we consulted an expert, biologist Larissa Smith of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.  Larissa replies:

“It is unusual to have more than two eagles at a nest but it does occur.  In NJ there is a threesome out in Cumberland County.

“The observers have noted for years that there are three eagles at the nest. I went out this year to confirm incubation and there was an adult incubating and two adults perched in the nest tree together. 

“We don’t know what the sexes are for these three birds, but from what we have observed they are all helping out at the nest.

“The only way to know if one of the birds is originally from the nest would be if it was banded, and as far as I know none are banded.  

“As the eagle population increases we are seeing more territorial fighting among eagles and in some instances this can cause nests to fail.  Perhaps we’ll also start seeing more pairs welcoming another adult to their nest to help out with raising chicks.”

(Thanks, Larissa!)


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