Hanover Bald Eagle Blog #4
December 28, 2018
HANOVER BALD EAGLE BLOG
bald eagle courtship displays
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Another week of nest preparation has passed, and on several evenings both eagles worked side by side, using their combined strength to adjust the largest sticks. These 9-11 pound birds are working in a small space and aside from the occasional peck have remained quite amiable, stepping aside and turning carefully to avoid collision. Watching their smooth collaboration during this construction phase leads one to wonder how much time they spend together in the non-breeding season. And furthermore, how did they meet?
Bald eagles begin looking for a mate prior to nesting season, and males have even been shown to associate with a specific female on wintering grounds. Courtship between bald eagles is one of the most prized sights in wildlife viewing, and one of the most difficult to witness. There are three well known displays: The “Cartwheel Display” involves two eagles locking talons, spiraling to the Earth below, and then swooping away at the last second, a nail-biting maneuver that leaves lucky observers speechless (many eagle biologists have never seen this display). There is the “Chase Display,” which, as you probably guessed, involves a high speed chase complimented with dives and rolls. Finally, the “Roller-Coaster Flight” is a bit falcon-like, with a high altitude ascent followed by tucked wings and a plummet towards the ground until the last moment when the eagle dramatically wheels away in the final moments before collision.
The longevity of pair bonds can be difficult to study without adequate marking of individuals, however there is evidence that some eagle pairs remain together all year. This is more likely to occur in regions where migration is not necessary.
How miraculous to think that Liberty and Freedom were once strangers. It’s important to remember that these are wild creatures, and while it’s easy to assign human sentiment to their actions, we will never truly know what their relationship is like. That being said, we may certainly marvel at the acrobatic lengths to which these birds will go to attract life partners. Judging by the collaborative nest building of these two, it seems their mate choice has paid off so far, and in the weeks to come we look forward to witnessing more collaboration in the Hanover home.
Thank you Hawk Mountain for this week's blog entry!
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