How many times have conservative Christians complained about a child being raised by same-sex couples? How many times have they freaked out about the possibility of adoption by more than two parents? It’s unnatural! It’s bad for the child! WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK?!
Well, they’re going to hate this story about baby eaglets at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois being taken care of by three parents… and then, after the mother (Hope) died, by two male bald eagles (Valor I and Valor II) who appear to be parenting together for the sake of the kids.
Ally Hirschlag at Audubon writes about the unusual situation:
Valor I’s lack of commitment and knowhow was impeding the couple’s ability to successfully reproduce. Then, as if in response to their struggles, a second male, subsequently named Valor II, showed up on the refuge webcam in the fall of 2013. At first, he kept his distance, perching on the edge of the nest or a nearby branch. Before long, though, he appeared to usurp Valor I as Hope’s main partner.…
… Not until 2016 did refuge biologists have clear documentation of cooperative nesting, with both Valor I and Valor II assuming nest-building, incubation, and feeding duties. That was also the first year Hope was seen mating with both males. It seems it took Valor I three years to learn how to parent.
After Hope likely perished, Valor I and Valor II refused to leave the eaglets. Both males resumed their parental duties — taking turns sitting on the nest, and feeding and guarding the young. “The two boys, man, they stepped it up, and raised those two to fledge,” [visitor services manager Pam] Steinhaus says. “It was amazing how they got together and did what dads do.”
What’s weird is that bald eagles usually move on to a new mate when they lose their current one, so the expectation would’ve been for these two male eagles to find new partners immediately. And yet they stayed together to take care of their eaglets. Having that “extra” parent has been a boost for them.
Now there’s a new female eagle in the sanctuary and all three are bonding well.
It’s the Christian Right’s worst nightmare.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Elizabeth for the link)