Love is definitely in the air for eagles. To be precise it is probably not love the way we humans and maybe even primates know love, but it is definitely the time to procreate and put your genes into the gene pool, if you are an eagle! The courtship season actually started over a month ago for many of the eagles in the area. I usually tell the visitors here at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha that courtship for eagles in our area starts on February 15th, which is a great time to start courtship as there are lots of specials on Valentine cards and chocolates then. Seriously though, that is a great way to remember when bald eagle courtship is usually starting in our area. For this is when the eagles will be returning to the nests in the southern half of Minnesota and Wisconsin. If they are returning to an already established nest one of the first things they may do is a courtship behavior called cartwheeling. Where the pair will fly several hundred feet or more above the nest, when the female is above the male he will then turn on his back in midair and reach up and grab the females talons, lock talons and then they will plummet in cartwheel fashion until almost hitting the ground, then unleash, and then often going up to great heights and doing it again. Why do this risky (note, risky not frisky) behavior, because it can be fatal for both of them if they do not unleash at the right time. It is primarily thought to be a pair bond exercise or could it be an engagement in a playful flirtation, a dalliance?
Unfortunately for us voyeurs watching the eagle cams we will miss this part of the eagle courtship, but maybe that is alright as there are something’s that you just have to see in person to really appreciate and understand. After all, we will be seeing some very cool things right in the nest over the next couple of months and all of us here at the National Eagle Center look forward to answering your questions on what is going on.
Do not to forget to tell your friends about this cool opportunity to watch first hand, our nation’s symbol, continuing to increase in numbers.