An eagle-eyed photographer at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson snapped a photo of a black bear curled up napping in a bald eagle’s nest on base. The photo was taken during an “eagle productivity survey,” led by Steve Lewis of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with JBER Environmental Conservation.
Whether it’s a bear identifying as an eagle or an eagle identifying as a bear is anyone’s guess these days. It may be just a bear hoping for a little peace and quiet after a full day of fishing, figuring possession of the nest is nine-tenths of the law.
There’s no word on what happened to the eagles or if eggs had been poached by the bear before it took a nap. Alaska bald eagle nests are made from sticks and stalks, and other comfy furnishings like moss and lichen. They usually are 4-6 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep, although they are known to be even larger. Most bald eagles in Alaska have their eggs laid by April, and a clutch can be one to three eggs. Incubation is about 34-36 days, but rarely do all the eggs hatch at once, and it’s not uncommon for only one chick to survive. Seldom are the eggs or chicks left alone, as both male and female eagles incubate the eggs and tend to the fledglings.
Biologists estimate there are as many as 150,000 bald eagles in Alaska and about 100,000 black bears. (And at least one bear who identifies as an eagle.)
Photo Credit: Cayley Elsik, JBER Environmental Conservation