Abandoned Eagle Egg Gets Surprise Caretaker


We often hear stories of animals adopting other species' young, but those are usually in captive situations. Rarely do you hear of this odd kind of inter-species interaction occuring in the wild, yet that's exactly what was captured on a wildlife camera being used by researchers studying bald eagles in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Bald eagle
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr Creative Commons.

The eagles laid two eggs in a nest, but faced too much pressure from other eagles competing in the area and were forced to abandon the nest.  That's when the camera caught an odd "nanny" coming in to take over incubation duties.

Watch this video to find out who it was.


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If you couldn't tell, it's a great horned owl.  Great horned owls often use the same nests that eagles and hawks use, which are typically large stick structures.  The owls' breeding cycle is slightly earlier, which limits competition for nest space.  

This particular owl was mostly likely still in nesting mode, and perhaps having lost its own eggs or young was stimulated to incubate the (unfortunately dead) abandoned eagle egg.

See my TV appearances and adopt a bald eagle with National Wildlife Federation.

David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >







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