Eagles are extraordinary birds. They are one of the only birds that mate for life, which is enough to give any hopeless romantic an instant bond. They dedicate almost 3 months to building their nests, adding one stick at a time to make a massive safe haven for their eggs. Mama bird usually lays between 1-4 eggs at a time, and once the eggs are laid, mama bird and papa bird share the responsibility of siting on them until they hatch.
I tuned in to Hanover shortly after mama bird laid 2 eggs. I quickly became way more invested in these eggs than I'd like to admit. But in my defense, they were introduced to me during an emotionally unstable time in my life and I was (and still am) clinging on to any bit of hope I can get.
Day after day I watched this mama bird sit on her eggs. I'd sit at work starting at my computer screen and she'd sit alongside me with the same boredom in her eyes. I watched her rotate her eggs, gently pushing them side to side with her massive claws. I watched her snuggle them tight under her belly, shielding them from the wind and rain. I watched as papa bird took over her duties when she felt tired and hungry, or just needed a break. I watched and I watched some more, and something in me felt a renewed sense of understanding. Even in nature, mothers mother.
Last week, the first egg hatched and I finally got to see mama bird at work. She stepped into the role with ease, feeding the eaglet fish and snuggling it close like any mother would do. But after a few days of life, her baby stopped moving. The Game Commission issued a public announcement that the eaglet had died. And if that wasn't difficult enough for me to process, days later they announced that the 2nd egg was not viable.
2 eggs, 2 losses.
I felt like this was all some cruel cosmic joke. I mean really, what are the odds that the eaglets I chose to follow don't survive? I checked the eagle cams in other parts of the country and all of their eaglets were still alive, chirping away in their nests. I know I sound insane, but I was so invested in this stupid bird and her babies. I just wanted to be proven wrong. I wanted nature to show me that there is still beauty left for me. That no matter what, nature always brings new life. I wanted all the warm fuzzies of watching cute little eaglets grow up and leave the nest. Instead, I got a harsh reminder that babies don't always survive. Something I know all too well after my own 2 losses last year.
Today I checked the morning news and I was surprised to see that my little Hanover eagle made headlines. Apparently I wasn't the only one invested. After reporting on the losses, one Fox News journalist wrote, "The parents have started leaving the nest for longer periods of time, and eventually they will likely abandon the nest..." And then, in that sentence, I realized something.
Mama bird is grieving.
Loss is an inevitable part of nature. But grief... I don't think it's something only we as humans feel. Mama bird is still sitting on her egg, holding on to hope. She's not ready to let go and abandon the nest quite yet. Something I think we can all, in some way, relate to.