How a Bald Eagle Brooded on a Rock and Raised an Eaglet
After observing one of the bald eagles in Valley Park’s World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis County, Missouri, a visitor was surprised to notice it was brooding over what looked like a rock. To be sure he wasn’t mistaken, the guest asked one of the sanctuary’s caregivers.
It turns out the bald eagle in question assumed the rock to be an egg.
Murphy, the Responsible Dad
One of the handlers then tried explaining the reason behind Murphy the bald eagle’s odd behavior.
Murphy suddenly took a liking for a piece of rock and had been sitting on it for a while, waiting for it to hatch. The handlers at the sanctuary decided to allow nature to take its course instead of intervening.
Hormones Were To Blame
According to the handlers, who have become quite familiar with the behavioral characteristics of bald eagles, Murphy’s sitting on the rock is just a display of pure instinct.
The bird’s body was secreting hormones in response to spring, nudging him to look for an egg to care for. The handlers were sure Murphy would lose interest in the rock right after spring had sprung.
You might be wondering what a bald eagle is doing in a sanctuary. Aren’t they supposed to be reclusive birds?
Murphy is a 31-year-old Eagle. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has pegged the average life of bald eagles to be between 15 and 25 years. Consequently, old age has caused a wing injury in the bird, which he cannot recover from.
Putting the Urge to Good Use
To help Murphy substantiate his hormonal instinct for responsibility, the handlers introduced him to an eaglet that had been recently orphaned. The two have since hit it off, and both are doing well.
A sign on the eagle’s enclosure advises visitors not to pity Murphy; he is too old to thrive in the wild. Besides, there are four other bald eagles in the same enclosure as Murphy, so he’s by no means lonely.