A black bear has been caught napping in an unlikely spot: the nest of a bald eagle. Researchers got here throughout the sleeping bear whereas surveying eagle nests on a navy base in Alaska.
Black bears (Ursus americanus) are identified to sometimes benefit from eagles’ architectural work — and these invasions spell bother for the birds and their younger, in line with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
“Previously, a couple of eagle nests have been raided by black bears with predictably dangerous outcomes for the nesting eagles,” FWS employees wrote in a Fb submit on July 21, including that these incidents usually end in younger birds going lacking.
Bears often eat eagles’ eggs and nestlings, stated Steve B. Lewis, a FWS wildlife biologist who led the nest surveys on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) navy base in southern Alaska. “It is arduous to say how a lot bears invade eagle nests as a result of we do not (cannot) spend that a lot time monitoring to see it occur or have cameras to witness it,” Lewis advised Dwell Science in an e-mail.
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Throughout a helicopter survey in Might, researchers noticed a feminine bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) incubating an egg on the nest later occupied by the sleepy bear. Per week later, the egg had been neglected within the chilly whereas each the feminine eagle and her mate busied themselves close by.
“It wasn’t clear if the nesting try had failed or if the feminine was simply taking a break from incubating,” Lewis stated, including that males would normally take over from females to maintain the egg toasty, particularly in cool locations like Alaska. For that purpose, Lewis suspects the nest “failed” within the spring, lengthy earlier than the bear crawled into it.
Bald eagles are Alaska’s largest resident birds of prey and have wingspans of round 7.5 ft (2.3 meters), in line with the ADFG. These raptors construct the most important nests of any North American chicken, with some nests measuring 8 ft (2.4 m) throughout and weighing greater than two tons (1.8 metric tons).
These large nests can also present protected resting locations for black bears that normally make “beds” on very steep slopes the place different animals cannot disturb them, Lewis stated. “This nest is not that far off from such a bear mattress. It might have simply occurred to climb the tree and determined to take a nap.”
Fishy smells wafting down from the nest can also have lured the bear. Eagle nests may be “somewhat smelly,” as a result of the fish adults catch for his or her younger generally go uneaten. “Usually that meals is not fully consumed and finally ends up getting stomped into the nest or laying on the aspect and rotting,” Lewis stated. “Bears have unimaginable senses of odor so maybe a bear is drawn to the smelly nest.”
Bald eagles have been listed as an endangered species throughout the U.S. in 1978, after their numbers plummeted resulting from habitat destruction, unlawful capturing, pesticides and poisoning, in line with the Alaska Division of Fish and Sport (ADFG). Stronger protections have allowed populations to recuperate and monitoring is ongoing to evaluate the affect of different human disturbances, corresponding to tourism and oil spills.