Each year, people around the world watch the Washington, D.C., eagle cam. It is a camera set up near the nest of two bald eagles. People can watch online at eaglecam.org. For many years, the birds have mated and cared for chicks. But this year, the eagle cam showed a drama that was a lot like a soap opera.
Liberty and Justice have shared the same nest for 14 years. Liberty is a female eagle. Justice is a male.
This winter, the mating season started in the normal way. The birds got the nest ready. They mated on February 9. Liberty laid two eggs. She sat on them to keep them warm. Justice was supposed to go hunt for food for the pair.
Instead, he disappeared. For more than two weeks, Justice stayed away. Liberty had no way to get food without leaving the nest. If she left, her eggs would get too cold. They would not hatch.
Two younger males visited Liberty's nest.
After about 10 days, Liberty started leaving the nest. Her eggs got too cold to hatch. On February 23, she flew away with one of the young male eagles. She was gone for two days.
On February 24, Justice came back. When Liberty returned, she rejected Justice. Later, they became close again.
Thousands of people watched the drama. But it wasn't over yet. While the eagles were out of the nest, a raccoon got in. It ate the eagle eggs live on camera. The eggs were not going to hatch. But some viewers didn't know that.
"People [started] freaking out on Facebook," said Tommy Lawrence. He leads the group that runs the eagle cam. "Then some older members … would calm them down."
After making up, Liberty and Justice mated again. It was late in the season. Experts weren't sure if Liberty would lay any eggs.
In the meantime, Justice kept leaving for days at a time. In March, he flew away for five days.
"We don't know where he keeps going," Lawrence said. "Our minds go to 'Does he have a second nest somewhere?'"
The people watching have been left wondering. Do the eagles have a future together? Is one of the younger males going to win Liberty's heart?
"The female will give up her mate before she gives up her nest," Lawrence said. "Liberty … has the keys to the house and she decides who to let in."
SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS