The Battle For Stewart

Stewart and his Nemesis: His Mate?
Stewart and his Nemesis: His Mate?

We count Stewart the Bald Eagle like a brother, as he apparently loves LBI as much of the rest of us. Stewart’s popularity is clear and undisputed: he won the Readings From The Northside 2014 Game Of Poles by a landslide.

After his lonely and uneventful Autumn on LBI, some readers might remember that Stewart was joined by a Nemesis. What appeared to be a Battle for LBI turned out to probably be some sweet and incredibly violent Eagle dating maneuvers. Stewart’s nemesis is estimated to be a 4 year old female named Marjorie (Street name: Madge). After some intensely brutal and apparently very romantic love battles, Stewart & Madge’s relationship appears to have matured. You can see the happy couple resting on the beach above. That’s believed to be Madge on the left, and Stewart on the right. We also saw them in yesterday’s post. Notice how Madge is slightly larger than Stewart. Eagles like a sturdy gurl.

Marjorie
Marjorie. Her dark splotchies, and dirty looking face indicate her age at a ripe 4 years. Her size indicates her Ladyness.
Drama. Madge get husbanded by Stewart.
Drama. Madge gets some old-fashioned husbanding from Stewart.
Madge takes the pole. It's too late to join the poll, but maybe next year sweetie!
Madge takes the pole. It’s too late to join the Game Of Poles, but maybe next year sweetie!

But things are not so simple in the Eagle’s world… as there is now a new interloper, a fresh Nemesis, a total STALKER: a third adult Bald Eagle stalking the pair everywhere they go and giving them no rest. The interloper’s stalking has become so frequent and predictable, you would swear you can see Stewart roll his eyes and yawn before taking to the skies to do battle.

The questions is, what kind of battle? Is it another Battle for LBI? Or is it a Battle for Stewart?

Now this is the part of the Reading where BAM!, you should get hit with the money shot of the Interloper. But in the interest of maintaining some tiny semblance of accuracy and veracity, I’m not going to do that. The truth is, when all heck breaks loose, and 3 Dragons are swooping over your head, it is very hard to concentrate over the sound of your pounding heart to be sure who is who and who is doing what. But we do have this:

Here is Stewart chasing off the Stalker while Madge takes the Pole in the previous shot.
A photo we can be sure of. Here is Stewart chasing off the Stalker while Madge takes the Pole in the previous shot.

Judging by that wing span, it sure looks like a Sturdy Gurl Stalker. Could it be? Could this be the ultimate Battle For Stewart? Could this be the worst kind of Stalker? The-kill-the-rabbit-kind-of-Stalker?

This goes on for hours some days... Poor Madge waits patiently on an old Osprey stand while her Stu-Pop tussles around in the air with the Stalker.
This goes on for hours some days… Poor Madge waits patiently on an old Osprey stand while her Stu-Pop tussles around in the air with the Stalker.

You be the Judge. Whatever the case, resolution should be forthcoming as Eagle nesting season has arrived. Checking in with The Great Mother Of All Cool Things You Can’t Shot With A Gun In New Jersey, Kathy Clark, we get this:

Eagles are territorial now but not necessarily on the nest yet.  Most are hanging around their nests and building, but the top of the bell curve of incubation is roughly the first week of February.  With one being ~4 year old, that’s a pair that hasn’t nested before (unless the male has, and has taken this new mate), and young pairs tend to lay eggs slightly later than older birds….but they have all the nest-building to do, so they should be hanging around a nest.  Talon-locking is courtship….a more aggressive aerial fighting is actually fighting and can end with one or both birds injured… So, the pair you’re seeing and the interloper –that suggests there’s a nest fairly close by, perhaps within (eagle) sight?  The interloper shouldn’t care so much unless there’s a nesting territory at stake.

The stakes are high. A new nest within Eagle-Eye of the Island, with a pair that has already discovered that LBI loves its wildlife would be just… well… super-terrific. We can already assume that Stewart will be a great Dad. Let’s hope he chooses wisely, and successfully.

And if you’re hungry for more Eagle, its the Month Of The Eagle, Celebrating All Things Eagle, at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Signup for the weekly news, and follow along on their Facebook page to get your NJ Eagle on.