Delta 2 Miracle Mom Having Tough Time!!
Monday, April 06 2015 @ 12:54 PM EDT
Contributed by: davidh
Last year our Delta 2 Miracle Mom accomplished several things I would have absolutely predicted as impossible. First after she had her left leg cleanly broken - within 2 months it had solidified and she resumed nesting and initiated laying 2 eggs only one month late from the previous year. Second she not just completed the incubation, certainly getting a lot of cooperation from Pa, but she fully reared and fledged both offspring. This was quite incredible for a bird that "should" have failed -- and I had defined her a biological reject.
Then almost more miraculously she routinely departed on the northern migration, the separation of parent and offspring -- AND returned a few months later. Did she get help from Pa over the fall? For the few satellite tracked pairs we believe the eagles generally take different northern migration routes to different places. Perhaps Ma got special help during the fall.
To see she arrive back on the nest territory last fall seemed another completely unexpected event -- but she and her attentive mate seemed destined for more miracles this spring. But perhaps the biological stresses have taken their toll. Certainly Ma returned with her leg still not fully functional. Her grasping and perching function was not fully operational. However, right on time came the two eggs -- then some more signs of "a difference"!
Certainly Ma was showing poorer foot use as the spring approached. Then the second egg seemed to change color "overnight" -- was this just dirt transferred from a parent or something else? While I have incubated tens of thousands of eggs over the years, including a few eagle eggs, I have not noticed this change in the different species. Certainly you occasionally get an "off-colored" egg but not generally one that changes color without seeing that one of the parents was oiled or something.
So I have no real explanation of what might have caused the change in coloration. This change took place quite early in the incubation so any change was not likely due to "rotting from the inside". If an embryo does die in the shell then the egg can eventually change color but not usually for some weeks.
The recent screen capture (Mar. 27) shows totally blotched eggs -- bizarre. They have the appearance of pale peregrine eggs -- though a little large!! Perhaps after the total night (Sat/Sun. April 4/5) of no incubation and many additional hours lacking incubation the eggs are going bad from the inside.
As I write this 9:25 AM, April 6, Pa is sitting the eggs diligently but probably to no avail. My conclusion is as many of you have also concluded: Ma miraculously returned from the north, seemed destined to be going to pull off another productive year but seems to have "re-hurt the leg" and this is causing her sufficient discomfort and incapacity that she is not able to effectively incubate. After being the Miracle Mom it is sad to see her "pulled down" again. Maybe she needs a rest period to again recover the leg injury and will strengthen for 2016. Lets hope.
Thanks for caring.