The mating habits of Norfolk’s most famous eagle are raising some eyebrows among wildlife experts.
Bald eagles are known for mating for life, but the resident male eagle at Norfolk Botanical Garden has been observed mating with three and possibly four different female eagles this season.
Lukei has kept records of the different females at the nest, all of which have been observed mating with the male.
“Female #1” spent the fall bonding with the male by building their nest together at Norfolk Botanical Garden. She was seen with the male from September of last year through January 6th.
“Female #2,” distinguished by the pale color of her beak, was at the nest Jan. 8-19th.
“Female #3,” distinguished by black colored feathers in her tail, was there Jan. 20- Jan. 30.
From Jan. 31-Feb. 6, a female which could be #2, or a new eagle, #4, was with the male.
And over the last week, a bird with black tail feathers, probably #3, was back at the nest and seen mating with the male.
This male bald eagle has called Norfolk Botanical Garden home since 2004 and mated with the same female the entire time. 15 healthy eaglets fledged from their nest during that time.
Last April, the female was killed by an airplane landing at nearby Norfolk International Airport. The male remained in his established territory and began nest-building with “Female #1” in the fall.
It is possible that fate dealt the male eagle another blow in January when a dead adult female eagle was found near power lines at Norfolk Botanical Garden. Biologists are unable to say for sure whether that was “Female #1,” but Lukei believes it was probably her.