Within earshot of traffic roaring along the Capital Beltway, a suddenly single dad is waging a quiet struggle to save his offspring, a nest of bald eagle eggs on the verge of hatching.
The eagle, nicknamed George by workers building a new Beltway bridge, lost his mate, Martha, when she was attacked by another female eagle Wednesday. The aggressor may have been trying to take over George and Martha's nest in suburban Maryland, which is valuable real estate for the area's booming bald eagle population.
After watching Martha fall in a dramatic midair battle, construction workers sought help from Stephanie R. Spears, an environmental specialist working with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
Spears rushed the bleeding mother eagle to a veterinary hospital in Newark, Del., where she was being treated for puncture wounds and a damaged beak that may need weeks of rehabilitation.
George was left alone to guard the nest and at least two eggs, difficult because he needs to hunt for food twice a day, and the attacking female remains a threat. Spears said she and federal wildlife officials were considering whether to move the eggs, or chicks, into a surrogate nest where they might have a better chance at survival.