After a bald eagle in Colorado watched her lifelong mate die, wildlife professionals said that, truthfully, she and her eggs didn’t stand much of a chance.
She was alone – no mate to man the nest if she went looking for food.
But this eagle is proving she is a strong, independent woman who will beat the odds, even if they’re stacked against her. In a two-week span, she became a widow, she has single-handedly nurtured her two eggs, and she's also been spotted with a new, younger man.
The eagle’s mate died at about the same time the bomb cyclone hit Colorado on March 13. She mourned him, as did Winston Herbert, the wildlife photographer who has observed their nest for years. Herbert continued to keep watch over the nest, where, on Friday, he saw something unexpected.
Herbert stopped by at about 11 a.m. and found a new guy (and apparently, others have taken notice, too).
“They both seemed to be getting along well. This was exactly one week after the older male died. Older neighbors came to talk…” he told us.
That’s right. Faster than you can say Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, it appeared this eagle may have gotten back in the game.
Herbert said that based on his looks, the new male is a juvenile. His pictures show them canoodling in her nest.
On Saturday, he spotted these possible lovebirds together again.
“She stopped sitting on the eggs and was gone for a long time. But did come back with the new juvenile companion and was there on Sunday morning.”
And Sunday’s update seemed to show this rebound relationship may be getting serious.
“Both flying high in the sky… March 24, 2019," Herbert said. "Neighbor did inform me that they were both in the nest last night together and were there in the morning.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife can't yet confirm if the new eagle is a mate, but they did tell us that it's not typical for eagles to move on this quickly. After all, officials haven’t even finished tests on the father of her two eggs to determine if it was the blizzard that tragically led to his death.
At this point, there are two likely possibilities.
One, this female eagle is proving there is love after loss, or two, the young eagle could be the female bird's son, now back in the nest so that his mom can make his dinner.
Jason Clay with CPW said eagles use the same nest for multiple years. Sometimes, young birds go back home because their parents may continue to feed them -- usually only until they're a year old.
Herbert guessed the juvenile eagle is between 3 years old and 5 years old, while CPW said it could be between 1 and 3. It is possible this eagle just wanted to return to the comforts of his old nest.
"Could be hanging around because they are familiar," Clay said. "They could be going back to the nest looking for food again."
Clay said there's no way to know about the relationship between the two birds for certain without more observation. If they aren't mates, she will eventually kick him out of the nest because he could be a threat to the hatchlings. If he is a mate, he's likely to stick around for the next mating season.
"There's typically no actual, that I know of -- of a time frame when eagles will find a new mate," Clay said. "They do mate for life, but when one dies off, they go out and find a new mate. So it could happen either way. It could be a new mate, or it could be one of the juveniles in there."
We’ll keep checking in with CPW to see what the wildlife experts have to say about it.
But, if she has moved on with a new man, and you’re wondering what relationship experts have to say:
HeartAcheToHealing.com suggests mourning should take time. Allow yourself space to bereave.
OpenToHope.com says even those who are resistant to new dates after a loss usually change their minds "immediately" when they meet someone interesting.
And while it doesn't specifically have anything to do with moving on after the death of a loved one, the relationship bible, Cosmopolitan, suggests it's OK to find love quickly again after a serious relationship but to look for warning signs that you're not actually ready.
As for dating a younger man? We don't need relationship experts to tell us that that's her business.
9NEWS has chosen to not disclose the nest's specific location for its protection.
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