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Name: Diana L.
Status: educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 
Monday, September 30, 2002



Question:
When one of a bald eagle mate is injured, how does the other mate react. Do they stay with them, leave them, feed them, for how long? Do they make a sound or have behavior that is significant when the mate dies?


Replies:
Diana,

I have not seen the behavior you are seeking with Bald Eagles, however, I have witnessed the same situation with Great Horned Owls. I can not infer that the behaviors would be the same.

The apparent stricken of illness of a juvenile Great Horned Owl in the wild (all were radio tagged) brought a three day (two night) abnormal behavior by both parents and siblings around the sick bird and forthcoming corpse. Little activity was observed for two nights and three days (yes, owls are active during part of the day) I witnessed no feeding or commonly observed active periods of behavior by either the adults or sibling during this time. The third night after the start of the presume illness that lead to the juvenile's death, all activities returned to previous levels. Birds as a whole have a defined set of stimulus / response behaviors. Most behaviors are instinctive.

I also worked with Bald Eagles in Minnesota for a short time. Like most birds, the juveniles have calls and behaviors that prompt the adults to seek food and feed the juveniles. Adults Eagles do not exhibit this type of call so I would not expect a mate to initiate feeding of an injured mate. It is not in their genes to behave that way and these birds do not have a very high level of intelligence. I could be wrong about all this, but I don't think so.

Steve Sample


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