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Three eagles and non-traditional families

Spring is in the air. So it made sense that NPR published a story about three Bald Eagles working together to raise three eaglets. The family of six reside in Northern Illinois along the banks of the Mississippi River.

Together since 2017, the male adults are named Valor I and Valor II and the female is named Starr. Starr is the two males’ second mate after a first female named Hope was attacked by other eagles and subsequently disappeared. According to the stewards of the park, the two males courted Starr together and likely both fathered the eggs.

What does this tell us about our own families?

According to the Audubon Society, it is rare for eagles to raise eaglets as a threesome, but it does happen. While circumstances are different for us homo sapiens, the idea of an expanded or blended family is increasingly commonplace these days. Whether it is biological parents divorcing and remarrying while raising children, or single-sex couples using sperm donors or surrogates, the standard nuclear family of the working husband, stay-at-home wife, and 2.7 children is a thing of the past. Happy families now come in all shapes in sizes.

It really does take a village

The three adult eagles reportedly shared in the incubating and the food gathering work equally, which likely improves the chances of the three eaglet’s survival. Many parents understand that it takes a village to raise children. Good parenting plans epitomize that approach, particularly when the parents know that the strength of the unit is its ability to work together like those eagles in Illinois do.

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