EAGLE & EGG: Camera catches unusual adoption - KMSP-TV

EAGLE & EGG: Camera catches unusual adoption

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Photo courtesy of Minnesota Bound Live Eagle Cam Photo courtesy of Minnesota Bound Live Eagle Cam

A pair of bald eagles has become an Internet sensation with hundreds tuning in every hour due after a roosting raptor discovered an egg inside a duck that became dinner and took it under its own wing.

"Who's not fascinated by watching these animals in the wild?" Julia Ponder, of the Raptor Center, asked. "It's an opportunity that we've never had."

In a way, the Livestream of the eagles in their nests is like the ultimate reality show -- and even avian experts at the Raptor Center are tuning in to see what the birds are up to.

"Watching how much or how often the chicks are fed -- we never exactly know what goes on like that," Ponder explained. "There's a lot of behavior and ecological things that we can learn watching these cameras."

Yet, over the weekend, a surprising plot twist turned up on the Minnesota Bound Live Eagle Cam -- a mother eagle adopted a duck egg.

"My initial reaction was, 'What?'" Ponder admitted.

The eagle discovered the egg inside a duck during dinner, and Ponder said what happened next must be instinct.

"There is just an innate urge to respond -- so, for instance, bringing the egg under her to brood. That's just an, 'Egg -- you put it under you to brood.'"

Yet, after incubating her own eggs for 35 days, Ponder says the odds are slim the eagle will stick around for another 28 days to hatch the duckling.

"My guess is she will abandon the egg as the chicks become more demanding," Ponder admitted.

The egg may have been damaged by trauma, but even if it does hatch, it may not be long for this world.

"The eagles will immediately recognize that it's not an eaglet," Ponder said.

Then again, great reality television is all about conflict, so Ponder doubts the unusual adoption will lose any of its appeal with bird lovers.

"They're watching to see what happens and how eagles behave and how eagles grow up," she said. "What a great thing to learn."

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