As any parent knows, courtship is the easy part. A male bald eagle at Lake Pleasant found this out when, after ousting another male, he mated with the female, she dutifully laid an egg, then everything went downhill. Dad made the stupid mistake of leaving the nest unattended, and some ravens swooped in and ate the egg.
“The new male still has much to learn about his role in caring for and protecting vulnerable eggs,” Arizona Game and Fish biologists said in a statement.
Dad recently got a second chance (though as you’ll see below, it seems he hasn’t learned his lesson). Last Thursday, Mom laid another egg. Watch it happen (about 1:05 in):
“Egg laying is an important milestone, but the female can’t care for the egg alone,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD raptor management coordinator. “The male needs to provide relief and take his turn incubating the egg; bring food for the female; ward off potential intruders; and ensure there is a constant presence on the nest. Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite learned that and the nest is often left unoccupied for multiple stretches of the day.”
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For the record, the ousted male had all this figured out. Two eggs laid under his watch, in January 2018, both hatched. Those two are part of 28 bald eagle fledglings—those that have taken a first flight—since the population began growing in 1993.
Meanwhile, a check of the live stream of the nest at 8:36 this morning found both birds MIA again, though it isn’t clear if the egg remains: