Saturday, April 14, 2012

Intruder or kin?

Tonight, a new eagle showed up near the nest. Mama (or possibly papa, eagles take turns on the nest) was talking to this eagle, a female about three years old. Although she has a white head and tail, the white areas are speckled with black. Bald eagles are usually about four years old when their heads and tails are completely white. That's also when they start seeking a mate. She didn't seem to be threatening the nest and didn't circle the area. It was almost as if she was stopping by to see what was going on.

Bald eagles will fight over nesting areas, and can do some serious damage or even kill a rival, so it's possible this female was positioning herself to take over. She didn't really look at the nest, maybe an occasional glance. Instead she was very interested in something in the opposite direction on the ground.

Then just as quickly as she showed up, she flew off. She was in the tree for about 10 minutes. I'd like to think our nesting pair now have a large extended family of children of varying ages. They've been nesting here for at least eight years, maybe longer. Whoever was sitting on the nest was using the "family chortle," a kind of warbling chat that eagles use with their kin. I've often observed the nesting pair talking to one another, while one was on the nest and the other watching from another tree. They talk to each other while flying together, sometimes in groups of 10, 12, or even 20 called a convocation. The younger eagle wasn't talking back. The nesting eagle was well aware another was in the area. Was the younger female an intruder or kin checking up on mama?

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