JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The beloved ETSU male eagle Noshi has remained missing for over two weeks, and a new male eagle appeared in his territory around the time Noshi first went missing.
It became apparent to eagle watchers that this newcomer is attempting to gain the trust and acceptance of the female eagle who birthed Noshi’s two eaglets.
For over a week, viewers have joined in on the live stream of the Johnson City eagles nest, watching as Shima feeds her young while the intruder eagle guards on a branch above the nest.
According to chief eagle watcher Michelle France, this shows that Shima is beginning to accept the newcomer, but reality was harrowing for the first couple of days as viewers noticed Shima was too distracted with the intruder eagle to hunt and provide for her eaglets.
“Things are good at the nest,” France said. “Shima is allowing the visitor male to perch in the top of the nest tree, and she seems to be getting back in her groove, and the eaglets are eating as well.
“As for the new male visitor, only time will tell how things will proceed, but thankfully she is trusting him to help her protect her territory.”
Eagle expert and ETSU biology professor Dr. Fred Alsop said in a Facebook post on May 10 that “things are looking up,” and as time passes, Shima is showing more and more signs of accepting the newcomer in what was once her and Noshi’s territory.
News Channel 11 reached out to Alsop, who said when the eagle watchers first saw signs that Shima was missing out on hunts to provide for her young, they wanted to do something about it, but interference is prohibited with the eagle cameras.
“The folks we spoke to [USFW] were very understanding, but also reminded us that the reason we have the privilege to live-stream these is that we have to follow the rules and guidelines that are set-up,” Alsop said. “While I’m sure they wanted to help, they have guidelines to follow that say that nature has to take its course.”
According to Alsop, Shima has become less distracted with the newcomer and has begun to provide for her eaglets regularly again. It is a possibility that Shima will accept the currently unnamed new eagle as her mate.
“There’s no one else to challenge him as well — only Shima, and she seems to have given up on doing that after the first few days,” Alsop said. “She’s back to raising her young.”
Although eagles tend to be monogamous creatures, it is not uncommon for them to find a new mate due to circumstances of disappearance or death.
Alsop said that the newcomer eagle might even be from Shima’s previous nestlings, which would technically make the newcomer her son.
“When we first began to set up our cameras to watch, he [new male eagle] may have been among those first fledglings that came out,” Alsop said.
If Shima accepts this newcomer as a mate, Alsop pointed out that it is uncommon but not impossible for eagles to mate within their families.
Many still wonder about Noshi’s whereabouts, but France said that might be something beyond human knowledge.
“We will never have a way of knowing what happened to Noshi,” France said. “Unfortunately, there are too many scenarios when you are dealing with wild animals.”
For all those interested in staying up-to-date with the eagle saga and happenings, join the ETSU Eagle Cams group on Facebook.