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Bald eagles’ nest has an unusual parent combination

Tune into the live webcam of a bald eagles’ nest in Illinois, and you may see a rare sight: two dads and one mom tending three eaglets, reports the Washington Post.

The webcam is courtesy of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, and a post at Audubon explains just how unusual the situation is.

Males are typically territorial when it comes to breeding, making it highly unusual for two of them to wind up in such close proximity.

But not only have Valor I and Valor II done so, they’re cooperating with female Starr in parenting the chicks. More than cooperating, actually: Both are copulating with Starr.

It gets even more unusual: This is the second female the two males have shared a nest with—the first one, Hope, died a few years ago.

“Why and how the two males tolerate one another isn’t known, nor is the parentage of the chicks,” notes the Audubon post. “But the young are certainly benefitting from the extra set of eyes and talons keeping watch and taking care.”

A previous story at LiveScience on bald eagles’ mating habits notes that “triads” have been spotted before, but they have mostly involved one male and two females. (Read more bald eagle stories.)

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