- Written by Dan Frankian
This interesting trio of Bald Eagles has hundreds of visitors each day from around the world; courtesy of the Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream.
Traditionally, Bald Eagles are thought to mate with one partner for life but that isn't really the case. Female bald eagles are actually rather pragmatic when it comes to their mates. They need a good, strong male to protect and provide; when her chosen one can't or won't deliver, she will often find one who does. She may even go as far as killing the undesirable mate.
So, contrary to popular belief, seeing one female with 2 males isn't as unusual as you may think. However, this particular trio is quite unusual... let's look at their history:
What we see on the live webcam is the female ("Starr") cohabitating with her 2 mates ("Valor I" and "Valor II"). But this story begins much earlier. In 2012, a female bald eagle "Hope" layed 2 eggs which hatched. It became apparent that her mate "Valor" had limited interest or experience in tending to the young. They perished at three days old. The following year, Hope was seen rebuilding a nest in a new location with TWO adult males (now named "Valor I" and "Valor II"). Together, they successfully raised two eaglets. They did so again in the following years.
Tragedy struck in March of 2017 when 2 adult eagles attacked the nest containing 2 eaglets and one egg that never hatched. After a prolonged battle, Valor I and Valor II emerged victorious but Hope was nowhere to be found. Searchers went looking for her to no avail. The 2 males proceeded to raise the two eaglets who fledged at the end of May.
By September that same year a new female appeared. So, instead of going off in different directions in search for a new mate each, our two males invited one female ("Starr") and thus completed their trio again. Starr was observed mating with both males and layed two eggs in early February 2018. Only one of the emerging eaglets survived that year. In 2019 the trio successfully raised three eaglets who all fledged in June.