Alcoa Davenport Works placed an Eagle Cam on their campus a couple of years ago, and they monitor a pair of Bald Eagles who live there year-round. Last year two eggs hatched, one baby lived. This year, three eggs have hatched, and all three babies are alive to date. I don't see any wedding bands or photos in the nest, so I'm fairly certain these eagles are not married, so while they are ruining the sanctity of marriage, they seem to be doing okay with the kids so far.
I've been creeping on this eagle family for the last four days, and I'm completely obsessed. I pull them up first thing in the morning and sporadically during the day. My boss would've been appalled at how much I checked in on the eagles on Friday at work. He knows I do it because he walked past my desk once and it was up, and he said, "Eagles! Has the third egg hatched yet?" so who knows, maybe he is spending his day stalking eagles too.
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It's like a little sampling of American life - the parents take turns hunting and taking care of the babies. The babies fight amongst themselves. The parents occasionally get irritated with each other, and seem to occasionally get exasperated with the babies. They snack on a mid-afternoon meal of three-days-old field rat and listen to The Black Keys, just like my family. It's eerie.
When I tuned in, there were two babies and an egg. The older baby, whom I refer to as Yellowbeak, or Asshole, was always pushing aside the middle child, whom I call Blackbeak. I would get so upset everytime little Asshole eagle would push past Blackbeak and take the raw fish or mouse, and I just wanted to pull that kid aside and give him the what for. He's a big bully, and what does he learn? Pushing everyone around gets you a gullet full of food. But I guess he's older so I'm going to cut him some slack. And? Blackbeak occasionally acts like he's riding the short bus - as in mom and dad are tearing off chunks of fresh squirrel head and feeding Asshole and Blackbeak is looking in the opposite direction going "Duhr, I wonder where I can get some fresh squirrel?
(DO NOT TELL TODD HOT NUTS EPSTEIN!! He might start drinking again.)
One time when I watched the eagles, the mom started panting with her beak open. Like the smartass that I am, I went to Twitter, hashtag #alcoaeaglecam, and said, "Mama Eagle is a Mouth Breather - not the most attractive trait in an eagle in my opinion." Within about 15 minutes, I had three replies on Twitter:
Oh, you can't see that? Because in my world of technological genius, I took a screen shot and saved it, but not big enough. I'm such a social media hot shot, huh? All three interactions were these serious explanations, like "She is cooling off, much like a dog pants". After the third one, I was kind of feeling like I needed to explain that it was a joke, so I did a response, which was, "People, I was just kidding about the mouth breathing. However, I DO think she has sleep apnea." Then I posted, "Also, undercooked squirrel and fish can expose the kids to harmful bacteria. Just sayin'." Funnily enough, none of the Twitter eagle experts got in touch with me again, and I was probably blocked from at least three Twitter accounts. (If you Tweet, my handle is @juliethewife.)
I'd been waiting for the third egg to hatch and had finally decided it was a dud, and then yesterday Youngest Daughter started yelling that the baby was hatching and we all ran to watch it pop out! (Oh, did I mention I have the whole family on it, and we essentially keep vigil to see what the eagles are doing? Yeah, it's now a family problem. I'm sorry, no time for math homework, we're watching nature online. Don't even have to get off the couch or put down the Cheetohs!)
All three babies seem to be getting food, everything was going well, today they even had a special treat of two turtles and the empty turtle shells sit in the nest. I checked on them at 3 p.m., everyone looks good, nest is crowded with three babies, two adults, two dead squirrels, a field rat, two turtle shells and half a fish, and when I check them at 4 p.m. the nest is EMPTY. COMPLETELY EMPTY. And I freaked out a little bit. What do I do when I freak out? I go to Twitter.
Seriously. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. At least there were a number of EagleGeeks out there with me who had the same problem, and seemed to be just as traumatized. When I checked back a couple of minutes later, everything was back to normal, with the birds and turtle shells just as they were. If it wasn't for Twitter, I would've thought I was crazy. But I also wondered if maybe it's time to start distancing myself from the eagles. If the parents end up going all Darwin on Blackbeak and push him out of the nest, I'll be depressed for days.
Time to pull back on the Eagle Stalking and get back to hooking. Until the Eagle has Landed. And then maybe I'll take another peek.