Sea eagle in long-distance 'love triangle'

A male eagle has successfully raised chicks with two different females for the first time in Scotland

17th August 2017
Blue V, one of the female chicks

The sea eagle, known as Turquoise Z, spends his time travelling between Angus and Fife to visit the nests and help raise the chicks.

This behaviour, known as polygamy, is rare for sea eagles as they usually partner for life. It has been seen on the west coast of Scotland a few times, but these nests were only a few miles apart. Turquoise Z’s are 28 miles apart. Providing enough food to these nests also resulted in failure. However, in this case there has been a successful outcome.

Turquoise Z was released as part of the East Scotland reintroduction in 2009. By 2013, he had settled down and began breeding with a female, in Fife, named Turquoise 1.

This April, RSPB Scotland staff were rather surprised to see Turquoise Z in Angus, sharing the duty of incubating eggs with a different female sea eagle known as Red Z. Due to their age gap (Turquoise Z is 8 whilst Red Z is 6), staff initially thought that Turquoise Z had abandoned his previous partner for a younger female. Yet he continued to make the 90-minute flight between both nests, and took shifts in incubating the eggs and provided food for both females and himself.

RSPB Scotland Sea Eagle Project Officer, Owen Selly, said: “We were astonished to discover Turquoise Z had two nests on the go. I really didn’t expect them to succeed but these remarkable birds have beaten the odds.”

Turquoise Z and Turquoise 1 have raised a female chick named Blue X, and with Red Z he has raised another female chick named Blue V.

Both of the sea eagle chicks have now successfully flown, and will soon be hunting for themselves. Turquoise Z won’t be quite as busy from now on, but the RSPB Scotland staff are still tracking him to see what happens next. 

 

 

Main image: The female chick Blue V, from the Angus nest/credit: Owen Selley

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