From: Kasey Jones, Associated Press
Published April 12, 2006 12:00 AM

New Eagle Forces Eagle Dad to Neglect Nest

BALTIMORE — George the bald eagle, apparently cowed by a female eagle that seriously injured his mate and the mother of his clutch, is neglecting the nest to take up with the interloper, an environmental official said Monday.

"This morning, we stopped seeing signs of incubator feeding," said Stephanie Spears, senior environmental specialist for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project on the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C. "We saw him flying around with the other bird. He's starting to bond with the new eagle."

George's mate, Martha, was injured Wednesday in a battle with the interloper. The attack occurred just as eggs in the nest George and Martha had built on the Maryland shore, just south of the bridge abutment, were expected to hatch.

George and Martha, named by workers on the project to build a new Interstate 495 bridge over the Potomac River, have hatched 15 eagles while nesting around the construction, according to the project's Web site.

After workers saw the mid-air battle between Martha and the home-wrecking female, Spears was called to take Martha to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Del.

"She's doing very well," Spears said. "She's recovering very quickly."

George at first took over the parenting duties in Martha's absence, guarding the nest, getting down on the hatchlings to keep them warm and exhibiting "feeding behavior," Spears said.

But the pressure of being a single parent -- having to feed the kids, find food for himself and deal with the continued aggression of the interfering female -- seemed to have proved to be too much for George.

"Once she starts asserting dominance, males have to make a choice to submit to the new female or risk being attacked by the new female," Spears said.

Although wildlife officials last week considered moving the eggs or chicks into a surrogate nest, Spears said there don't appear to be any viable eggs or hatchlings to transplant.

As for Martha, Spears said she would discuss with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources what to do with her when she heals. "We might release her back to the project (area) or release her somewhere else," she said.

Source: Associated Press

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