Berry eagles getting ready to nest again

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. (AP) — After what appeared to be a brief flirtation with another adult female eagle, Berry College's Cage Center male bald eagle has reconnected with his original mate and both are back at the nest in time for the breeding season.

The adult male showed up with a different adult female at the end of August. His original partner returned Sept. 3, and the pair has been seen on the Berry nest cams virtually every day since. There has been no indication the female interloper has been back to the nest since that time.

The original female is easily distinguished by her left talon, which is noticeably twisted. The male is much smaller and has a black spot on his tail feathers that helps identify him.

Eddie Elsberry, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Berry, said the eagles have been remarkably consistent with respect to the timing of their return to the nest each year. Each of the past three years students monitoring activity on the nest cameras have reported first seeing both adults on the nest together during the third week of September.

Nichole Bednar, Montague, New Jersey, said she watches the Berry eagle cam about three hours a day now. She expects her viewing time to go up as the daily activity increase.

She is one of the administrators of the B3 Branch Buddies Facebook page. B3 was the name given to the lone eaglet hatched in 2014.

"I watch for details. It's truly the only way to learn," Bednar said.

Picking up on the black spot on the back of the adult male was one of the things that convinced her it was the original adult male with the stranger in the nest for about a week.

"The nest had had multiple juvenile, sub-adult and adult eagles visit," said Elsberry. He said the numerous photographers who document activity at the nest believe as many as eight eagles have visited the site since this year's young left the nest in the late spring.

"That's exciting as it indicates the eagle population is on the increase in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama," Elsberry said. "We hope to continue to see and hear of more eagle nesting sites in our area each year."

Jerri Mowry, Hartford City, Indiana, a member of B3 Branch Buddies, said she was not overly concerned about seeing the familiar adult male on the nest with the stranger for several days in a row.

"There is always the danger of a mate not returning and he would have accepted her as his mate. Its nature's ways of securing the continuation of the species,' Mowry said.

Since the spring of 2012, the pair has produced seven young eaglets, two in 2013, one in 2014 and two each of the past two years.

Eggs are typically laid anywhere from late December through mid-January.

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Information from: Rome News-Tribune, http://www.romenews-tribune.com

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