Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eagle lifemates

Eagle lifemates share a laugh, May 8, 2012
Finding a soulmate - a true soul connection with another - is a special gift. Finding a lifemate is even more rare - at least among humans.

Bald eagles, Canada geese, and many other birds do mate for life. That's one of many characteristics that make bald eagles so fascinating. In early February, I wasn't seeing my favorite pair around the area. I did see, and photograph, a younger almost-mature female visiting the area. Was she checking to see if the pair were still together? Was she one of their offspring stopping by for a visit?

Papa keeping intruders away from the nest - May 6, 2012
All of my questions were answered by the end of March. My favorite eagle pair had repaired their nest and papa stood watch and occasionally chased off intruders (and their kin from earlier broods), while mama was nurturing their eggs. He brings her - and now their brood - food. He also relieves her once in awhile and takes over nest duties. They're both very clear about their devotion, their loyalty to each other and to rearing young.

I haven't seen downy eaglet heads or heard them yet. I know from past years that there are babies when I can see mama's head high above the nest. Their nest is so well hidden and protected that I just imagine that I'm seeing a bit of eaglet fluff. It could just as easily be a gnarled branch. In another month, she'll spend more time out of the nest but close by as the youngsters try out their "trainer" wings in their massive aerie. Last year, I only saw one baby at a time, so I thought we had lost one of them. That is, until fledging, when they each would goad the other into flying.

I photographed the two images above exactly a year ago in May 2012. The images below I photographed May 6, 2013. Mama was clearly expecting papa, who showed up with part of a fish in one of his talons. He dropped it off, flew to a nearby tree for a few minutes, then flew back out to the hunting grounds.

Mama spots papa coming back to the nest - May 6, 2013

Papa carries a morsel of food to share.

Papa stays for a moment, then flies to a nearby tree.

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