Thursday, May 11, 2006

So have you heard about those eagles?

There was an eagle's nest about 30 metres high out in B.C with a video stream capturing the eagle couple caring for their eggs. The eagles took turns sitting on the nest, took great pains to gently turn them from time to time until they should have hatched but didn't. The common thought was that the eagles were too old so the eggs were never viable. Apparently a lot of people around the world were watching and waiting for the blessed event and were disappointed. When the eggs didn't hatch, the parents ate them (gross, I know) then abandoned the nest.

After a few days of mourning, the kind web host found another nest, went to tons of trouble to attach a camera to a tree nearby and voila, we have another window into the lives of wild birds. This nest has 2 baby eagles (eaglets? eaglings? cubs?) already hatched and very active in the nest. The adults take turns bringing back food for the hungry babies. And they are hungry. I've never seen anything like it. When I started writing this blog about 5 minutes ago, I watched as one of the parents brought home a small rabbit. I keep flipping back to the window and it's almost gone already. Mum keeps tearing off small bits and feeding it to the babies. This isnt for the faint of heart, though. She keeps tearing bits of fur from the poor bunny and flipping them up into the air before getting to the meaty goodness inside. And sometimes there are stringy, dangly bits. UGH.

This site sure makes you think. Can animals love? Eagles mate for life and it seems like the mummy eagle (see how I anthropomorphize these wild animals... big word, eh?) cares about her babies but how much is instinct and duty and how much is real love? To my human eye, it looks more like instinct. Not that there's anything wrong with that. That's the way most animals are. But survival of the fittest just doesn't translate to human parents, does it?

One of the baby birds is obviously the "runt". When the parent comes back with its meaty meal, the stronger bird (I call him Dirk) practically steps on the weaker bird (Melvin)'s head to get to the food. The parent then proceeds to feed the one whose beak is closest which is always Dirk. Melvin thankfully does get fed but after Dirk eats his fill. And it's always less, poor guy. If he didn't (or couldn't) step up at all, he'd probably starve.

In a human family, that probably wouldn't play. Melvin will usually get showered with attention, affection and support sometimes even to the detriment (hey, another $10 word... I'm on a roll here) of Dirk. Families don't really do survival of the fittest, do we? And that's a good thing. It sure does make watching these cool (and sometimes cruel) birds really interesting. Because it's something we don't see everyday. Now back to the Melvin and Dirk show. They're having sushi now...

kxx
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