How a pair of eagles can teach about life

Whenever people talk about eagles, this is the image that comes to mind. A solidary hunter looking for its next meal. Looking down from its domain.

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Look at the picture below and guess what the eagle on the left would do next. Hint: Talons are outstretched suggesting that they will be deployed.

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My guesses were the following:

  • Picking up dinner
  • Looking for a nice perch to look for dinner
  • Fight over hunting territory

I did not have sharing a perch with another eagle in one of my guesses. They perched together for several minutes doing nothing except drying their feathers while glancing about.

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The first eagle had moved slightly to one side so that the other eagle could land. This suggested that both birds knew each other or the encounter would have been decidedly unfriendly.

The size of the eagle meant that few avian predators would be a match for it. Considering the height of the perch, four legged predators would have to a long climb to reach them. The usual cliché about sticking together against a common enemy was not applicable.

While some birds huddle, the eagles did not look like the type that look to others for warmth. If I were to characterised their behaviour, it would like two Englishmen being polite yet distant. It is not so much as swiping left on Tinder as it is not bothering to install the Tinder app.

That pair of eagles will never be a meme for friendship. There is no handholding, cuddling or arm around the shoulder. It is just two eagles drying off together. The human equivalent of sharing a fire. Yet this is what friendship is also about.

Companionship

One of the best indications of friendship is that the relationship can endure boredom. Friendship is not an all action movie. It has to have its quiet moments. Both eagles look pretty capable to fend for themselves but after a storm, they still seek out the company of each other.

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking with alone in the light.- Helen Keller

Friends with no benefits

I have heard of raptors hunting together as a team but most of the hunts by raptors are solo acts. Eagles need to work together to mate and raise their young, there was no nest in sight. While the pair of eagles are likely to be a couple, the point is that they were still together with no children to tie them down.

It is possible that the eagles were house hunting together. I will update the article if I find a nest in the tower at a later date. This is not a Disney story about animal behaviour. The sea eagle’s version of Finding Nemo is going to be short and nasty. Sea eagles are not above stealing food from their mates. The myth about eagles being faithful to their mate is just that.

But for one moment after a storm, they could stand together.

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. — Baltasar Gracián