ShareThis Page
Rare bald eagle trio raising chicks in one Illinois nest |

Rare bald eagle trio raising chicks in one Illinois nest

Mary Ann Thomas
Courtesy of Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge
Three eagles tend a nest in Fulton, Illinois.

Live webcams like the one at a wildlife refuge in Fulton, Illinois, document some of nature’s oddities — like threesome of two males and one female bald eagle successfully raising young.

Highly territorial, breeding bald eagle couples typically do not allow a third adult in on the breeding action. But the two males have been present at the Fulton nest since 2013, according to reports.

“Why and how the two males tolerate one another isn’t known, nor is the parentage of the chicks,” according to Audubon Magazine. “But the young are certainly benefiting from the extra set of eyes and talons keeping watch and taking care.”

The three adults hunt, nest-sit and call to one another for assistance for caring for their three eagle chicks this season.

The details are known because the nonprofit, Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge has had a live webcam on the nest.

The second male eagle showed up on the webcam in the fall of 2013 and became the female’s main partner, while the first male was not too attentive. But both males have stayed around even after they lost the female in 2017. There’s a new female and all three are currently tending to three eaglets.

Bald eagle trios have been documented before, according to Audubon, in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

“In those cases, however, it was unclear whether all three eagles were biological parents, or if one was just a ‘nest helper,’” according to Audubon. Refuge biologists don’t know for sure whether both males in Fulton fathered eaglets in this case but, based on the mating they’ve observed, the odds are good.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.