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Mother Eagle Killed By Jet, Three Eaglets In Nest. Can Male Eagle Raise Them To Maturity?

April 26, 2011

UPDATE

 The eaglets were removed from the nest this morning by park staff

All eaglets on the ground and are in the Car. Steve Living will be driving them to WCV.

One option discussed was to leave them and see if the father could continue to raise them alone. It is possible he could, but it is also very possible he could not continue to provide enough food as they grow and need a higher calorie count. There was a concern it would reach a point of no return and it would be difficult to remove the eaglets. It would present the problem of being too late to remove them for their survival. There is a reason it takes two parents to raise the eaglets.

Another option would be to try to foster them out to other nests. That would require finding three nests with eaglets at the exact right age. There is also the concern the foster parents may reject these eaglets.

The final option was to take the to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, where they will be cared for until they are old enough to take care of themsleves and be released to the wild

We all want what is best for the male. We have to remember that it would be a long time stress for him to raise and train all three eaglets on his own. Although this is very sad now and our hearts are breaking, he can now mourn and go on with his life, feeding himself, staying healthy so he can eventually begin searching for another mate.

We really have no way of knowing what the male will do at this time. I expect he will return to the nest at times and eventually will carry on. He will eventually seek out a new mate – as the female did when she lost her previous mate.

Female eagle that was killed today pictured above.

Much sadness today for the lovers of the eagle cam located on the right-hand side of this blog.  Over the past many weeks we have all loved to stop and take a look at the comings and goings of this new family.  We have so much enjoyed the adult eagles that were working hard to raise the three eaglets.  I have been so proud to post about these little guys and the adult eagles that have brought so much hope these past weeks as we watched.  I know from the information I see about how readers interact with my blog that this web cam was viewed by many of you. 

Today there was a very sad turn of events.

A plane landing at Norfolk International Airport struck and killed the female eagle from the botanical garden between 8:30 a.m. and 8:50 a.m.

 A US Airways regional jet coming from Philadelphia was preparing to land at 8:50 when the pilot reported the bird strike.  

For a series of photos of this particular eagle please click here.

Shank says the eagle was reportedly feeding at Lake Whitehurst with another eagle when the strike was reported.

With a crowd of people watching, the father of eaglets born at Norfolk Botanical Garden returned to the nest at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, hours after their mother died.

“I’m literally, I’m shaking. I’m happy. I’m crying. I’m excited, you know, and I’m hoping he can take care of ’em,” said Shelly Fowler after seeing the return.

Fowler is a photographer who has chronicled the lives of eagles at the botanical garden since 2004. She was among several people who stood in Renaissance Court watching the nest Tuesday evening.

“If he can take care of ’em for another month, you know, they’ll make it,” Fowler told 13News.

The adult male eagle had been seen in a nearby tree Tuesday afternoon. To the relief of thousands of online Eagle Cam viewers, when he returned to the nest in evening, he fed a fish to the hungry eaglets.

There are concerns by biologists about whether the male can provide for the brood in the nest.

“These eaglets are right on the edge of being able to feed themselves if something is brought to the nest, but we will be watching to see if the male helps them eat. If he doesn’t, they will likely have to come out of the nest,” said Lukei.

Lukei said there are cases of single adult eagles raising broods on their own. He added that a decision will be made by Wednesday about what will be done with the three eaglets.

“They had a breakfast this morning, a big catfish, but with these temperatures we’re having, if they are not fed eventually, they will become dehydrated,” said Lukei.

The commentary from the moderators on the web cam site has been sad and reflective concerning the death of the female eagle.

Today has been one of sadness, tears, breaking hearts and then joy! We have been so fortunate to observe this lovely family for so long, see the eaglets hatch, learn so much and then leave. We have watched the male and female interact in ways that made our hearts smile. We need to remember that this female eagle gave us so much, that she will live on in our memories and in her offspring. We can be sure that the eaglets in this nest will have a very good chance of surviving, whether in this nest or elsewhere – more than most in the same situation ever have. We have to hope that the male will find a new mate and that we will be given the opportunity to watch a new family evolve. 

I want to thank everyone for their wonderful comments and concern. I want to thank my fellow moderators for their support and friendship. All of us have been drawn together by this wonderful pair of eagles – a truly amazing thing in itself. Yes, we are all feeling sadness today and probably for many days to come, but we have each other to share it with and to learn from this sadness, that life goes on and soon we will be laughing and smiling as three little eaglets plop around on those funny looking feet, flap those huge wings and eventually soar in the clouds – and their mother will be so proud.

Then there was this comment that added the right touch.

Comment From AMANDA-WIMBERLEY TXAMANDA-WIMBERLEY TX: ] I WAS WATCHING EARLIER AND NOTICE THAT THE BABIES WERE HUDDLED TOGETHER AND ONE OF THE LARGER BABIES SPREAD IT’S WING OVER THE OTHER TWO IN SOME KIND OF REASSURANCE GESTURE. IT WAS SOOO SWEET AMONG A SAD TIME.

One Comment
  1. des permalink
    April 30, 2011 10:57 PM

    awwwwww i hope the eaglets a right

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