Where eagles flirt: A DC tale of love, loss and raccoons

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a story with the whole lot you’d want for a soap opera: star-crossed lovers, a secure relationship threatened by youthful suitors, being pregnant and loss, and a hungry raccoon. Washingtonians, along with a worldwide…

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a story with the whole lot you’d need for a soap opera: star-crossed lovers, a secure relationship threatened by younger suitors, pregnancy and loss, and a hungry raccoon.

Washingtonians, together with a worldwide group of eagle-watchers, have been transfixed this winter by Liberty and Justice, bald eagles who’ve nested and raised eaglets together for 14 years on the grounds of the town’s police academy.

Their annual mating ritual, egg-laying and hatching course of normally draws hundreds of viewers to a special eagle cam. However this yr has been unusually dramatic, with twists and turns that turned headline information outdoors the eagle-watcher group.

“It’s been a roller-coaster experience,” stated Tommy Lawrence, managing director of the Earth Conservation Corps, which runs the eagle cam and has been instrumental in repopulating the local bald eagle group. “Individuals sort of take possession of the eagles and really develop into invested of their nicely-being.”

The saga of Justice and Liberty isn’t the capital’s solely eagle drama. Final Wednesday, the Blue Line of Washington’s Metro was delayed to rescue an injured bald eagle from the tracks . The hen later needed to be euthanized.

Another eagle cam , on the Nationwide Arboretum, additionally has chronicled relationship tensions this yr. Two eagles, referred to as Mr. President and The First Woman, experienced a comparatively delicate relationship drama when one other feminine confirmed up and tried to woo Mr. President. The interloper was chased off by The First Woman.

However the greater drama involved Liberty, the female, and Justice.

Their mating season began usually. Collectively they ready the nest they’ve shared for 14 years. They mated on Feb. 9. Normally at that point, Liberty would lay eggs — often two — and spend most of her time sitting on them whereas they incubated and the male sought food for the family.

However this yr, Justice disappeared virtually instantly after mating, leaving Liberty with no method to collect meals while protecting the eggs heat. During his absence a younger male eagle started showing at the nest and courting Liberty. Researchers named him “Aaron Burrd” and speculated that he had fought Justice and pushed him from the territory. A second younger male rival additionally made some appearances.

After about 10 days, Liberty started making brief flights away from the nest, which means the temperature of the eggs dropped too low to hatch. On Feb. 23, Liberty flew away with one among her new suitors for two days, primarily abandoning her nonviable eggs. The subsequent day, Justice reappeared after a more than two-week absence to reclaim his place. When Liberty returned, she didn’t settle for him again at first but steadily they reconciled.

Then came a last…

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