White-bellied Sea-eagle – Threesome

posted in: Nesting, Raptors | 0

SeaEagleWB [ThongChowNgian]

“On 03 May 2016 while having breakfast, I saw two White-bellied Sea-eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) from a far distance at my balcony (above). They were soaring high above an Albizia (Falcataria moluccana, previously Paraserianthes falcataria) tree facing Tampines estate and were making several loops in a playful fashion. After 30 minutes, they disappeared from view.

“The next day at 8am, I observed them again and noticed some interesting behaviours. I would like to find out more about these behaviours and would appreciate your feedback.

2

“Three adult eagles, indicated by the 3 coloured circles are shown above. Two of them were resting under the canopy of the Albizia tree, and the third eagle shown in the bottom right circle was carrying a long stick in its talons and was circling around the canopy. The eagle on the top right with the yellow circle, seemed to be a solitary eagle. It remained in this position for a long time and is also shown in the two photos below, under the shadow of the canopy.

3

“The eagle carrying the long stick flew in a large circle above the canopy (above). In this photo, it was flying to the extreme right.

4

“The same eagle looped back towards the tree (above). I noticed this eagle would circle above the canopy three times before stopping and landing near the eagle on the left, still holding on to the long stick. It repeated this behavior one more time and landed on the left side of the tree, very close to the other eagle. The three eagles perched for another 30 minutes before disappearing from sight. I did not see them anymore for the rest of the morning and day.

5

“The next day I observed these eagles again at 7am by using my DSLR camera’s Live View mode. I found this camera feature very useful as I could magnify the image much more. This photo taken with my mobile phone, shows my DSR camera LCD screen. The two eagles in the centre seemed to be the breeding pair. The third eagle on the extreme left seemed to be the solitary bird.

“I was not able to observe them anymore the next day and throughout the week. I could hear their calls occasionally but could not see them at the Albizia tree. I was hoping to observe some nest building activity for several days, leading to the raising of a young eaglet. Unfortunately, it did not happen.

“I have three questions about these eagles.

Question 1. Why is there a third adult eagle in this group? It looked mature enough to be independent but chose to hang around the breeding pair.

Question 2. What was the purpose of the circling display? Could this be a courtship display or could it be establishing its aerial territory?

Question 3. Why was the nest building activity not observed on this Albizia tree?”

Thong Chow Ngian
Singapore
14th May 2016

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