Three bald eagles are raising three chicks in beautiful display of cooperative nesting

bald eagles stewards mississippi

As Reddit would say, nature is metal. Animals always find a way to adapt and overcome, especially when faced with adversity from humans or, well, their own politics.

Take the Trio Bald Eagle family of the Mississippi River for instance. Three near-fledgling bald eagle chicks are currently being raised by one female and two males in what is a gripping story of death, despair and renewal that began in 2012.

According to Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge — the nonprofit body documenting the eagles’ narrative — there was initially a mating pair of a male and female, Valor I and Hope, respectively. The second male eagle, Valor II, arrived in 2013.

Why, you ask? Valor I was a pretty terrible father, refusing to fetch his kids from school, make dinner or clean the dishes. No, seriously, he literally left Hope to choose between incubating the chicks, or leaving them unattended to hunt.

“[Valor II] hung around from a distance during that year. 2014, Valor I was seen hanging around but not a part of the nesting. They were seen together in 2015. It wasn’t until 2016 that we were able to document the cooperative nesting that was going on,” Stewards wrote in an FAQ.

Eagles don’t usually mate in trios, as bald eagles usually form mating pairs. However, it’s likely that this trio formed out of necessity, with the survival of Hope’s young paramount in her decision to welcome another male bird into her nest.

However, this newly formed happy family would be hit by a crushing blow. Hope did not return to the nest “after a vicious battle with another eagle” in March 2017, leaving the two male eagles without a mate. However this changed just six months later when Starr — the new female eagle — arrived in September 2017.

And here they are now.

The trio now take part in all nesting duties — even Valor I — including maintenance, infant care and hunting. What also makes them different from other nests is that both males are copulating with Starr. Stewards has hope that the current trio will breed for life, much like the two males did with the original female eagle.

As for their current brood, they’re all less than three weeks old, seemingly healthy and constantly monitored by their two dads and mom.

But, we do have a few questions. Will Valor I continue to pull his weight? Will Starr consider adding a third male bird to her party? Will Valor II ever get the recognition he truly deserves?

We’re sure all these answers and more will be answered by watching the Trio Bald Eagle family’s nifty webcam below.

Feature image: Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge

Andy Walker: Editor
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