Two dads and a mom eagle in the nest

We’ve found another eagle nest streaming live on the internet, and this one is really interesting.

Eagles, like most raptors, mate for life. From Missouri, reports a lovely story of a pair of male eagles raising a family together, first with one female and then another:

“In 2012, when the original pair—Valor I (male) and Hope (female)—began nesting at Lock and Dam 13 on the Mississippi River, Valor I wasn’t a very good partner or father. He was irresponsible about incubating the eggs and feeding the eaglets, which were really his only two jobs.”

The young eagle couple’s first-year eggs hatched, but the eaglets weren’t able to survive the neglect, and died before fledging.

They Needed a Second Dad continues: “Valor I’s lack of commitment and knowhow was impeding the couple’s ability to successfully reproduce. Then, as if in response to their struggles, a second male, subsequently named Valor II, showed up on the refuge webcam in the fall of 2013. At first, he kept his distance, perching on the edge of the nest or a nearby branch. Before long, though, he appeared to usurp Valor I as Hope’s main partner…. Valor I didn’t seem to mind. He stayed near the nest and wasn’t seen contributing to egg-incubation or eaglet-raising. ‘He was still around but not actively involved,’ Pam Steinhaus, the Visitor Services Manager says. Two eaglets successfully fledged that year.”

Over the next few years, the trio stayed together. Valor I, the original bad dad, gradually took an interest in the nest and became what we might refer to as a stand-up dude. The two dads shared full nest duties with Hope and could be seen on camera feeding and caring for the eaglets. The eagle parents each had their strengths.

“‘The boys would put sticks in the nest, but they never put them in the right spot,’ Steinhaus says. ‘Hope was always replacing sticks in the spots where she wanted them to go.'” And by the way, even though their nests looks pretty ramshackle, eagles do seem to spend a lot of time neatening up.

The threesome coparented for several years.

Then, Tragedy. But Wait…

But sadly, in a series of attacks on their nest by neighboring eagles in 2017, Hope was apparently killed. (Not to get judgmental about wildlife, but those other eagles seem horrid.) The two dads, Valor I and Valor II, continued to defend and care for the nest. They raised the eaglets successfully without their mate.

And Valor I and Valor II stayed together as a couple. They were joined by new female named Starr later in 2017 and the three have been raising eaglets every year since. There are two eaglets in their nest right now, about a month old and looking pretty teenage-gawky — you can see them on live stream cameras.