American Bald Eagles usually mate for life.
Living between 20-30 years in the wild, the main mascots of the United States since 1782 also share traditional parenting roles.
Thanks to modern tech, researchers have gathered more knowledge about this North American icon’s parenting skills, much of which comes from a platoon of Live Eagle Cams made available by conservationist groups.
(Slight segue: These Eagle Cams are a great idea for a dad lesson. Night vision tech. Wildlife. Potential bird fights. Lots to like.)
Filtering a Twitter consensus from the usual Twitter tripe, Bald Eagles exemplify the importance of family.
Observers also noted that together, mum and dad Bald Eagles provided the essential fabric of family life.
Commenting on their parenting prowess, the US Department of the Interior, captioned the viral snapshot of a Bald Eagle covering its young in a snowstorm: ‘Parenting takes perseverance.”
Parenting takes perseverance. You can barely see this bald eagle on the @USFWSNCTC Live Cam as it sits incubating an egg, covered with a blanket of snow. pic.twitter.com/IvbtigpIWk
— US Department of the Interior (@Interior) February 19, 2021
Bald Eagles nurture their young together.
A research paper from W & M College’s archives described the mothers as ‘incubators and brooders.’
Whereas dads spend their time as hunter, feeder, nurturer, and/or defender.
‘At home in the nest, males and females play traditional roles. The male bird gets the food, but the female and male share the feeding duty.’
Bald Eagles deploy their specific mum and dad skill sets relevant to their natural abilities.
The survival of the family unit depends on them living out ordained “gender roles” in a complementary way.
Most notably, a mother and father Bald Eagle, united together on, at, and in, the nest, make for a formidable fortress, protecting their young.
W & M add,
‘The adults have a stronger response to intrusion when both of them are there at the nest. The male usually chases off or attacks any intruder.’
Myth-busting the notion that eagles boot their fledglings out of the nest, instead of teaching them how to fly, Journey North — now part of the University of Wisconsin — clarified,
‘The adults may withhold food as the eaglets, and encourage them to fly to a nearby perch to get their meal, but that’s about it. Usually, no coaxing is necessary, and the eaglets are all too anxious to test their wings!’
It takes fledglings about ‘10-12 weeks to leave the nest.’
Even when they do, post-fledglings ‘often stay around for 1-2 months learning from their parents’ the skills necessary to hunt, and fly.
Some eager ‘independent youngsters’ leave the nest early, often ‘paying for this with their lives during their first fall and winter.’
While both a mum and a dad matter, Bald Eagles are not always the best parents.
Avian Report recounts field observations where parents haven’t distributed food equally.
The most extreme example ended in the eaglet last to hatch receiving the least amount of food. This eaglet died of starvation.
Another fun fact: ‘Up to half of Bald Eagle fledglings end up on the ground.’
Despite them being vulnerable to predators, mum and dad ‘continue feeding their [grounded young] until they gain more strength, and coordination skills, to fly.’
Footnoting justifiable arguments against taking unfiltered parental advice from animals in the wild, eagles tend to pair up, and parent well.
Right throughout creation, this male/female cohabitation and cooperation is the balanced basis of all life, not just of good parenting.
Universal truisms drawn from a Bald Eagle’s life as a parent reinforce the time-tested value of an engaged mother and engaged father in the life of a child.
Photo by Frank Cone.
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