Turquoise Z (male) and 1 (female) © John Cumming
An eight year old male sea eagle, known as Turquoise Z, has managed to look after offspring with two different females at nests more than 45km apart, a first for east Scotland.
Polygamy is rarely recorded in sea eagles, and has only been seen a couple of times in west Scotland – the nests were just a couple of km apart and always resulted in failure.
“We were astonished to discover Turquoise Z had two nests on the go,” says Owen Selly, RSPB Scotland’s sea eagle project officer.
“I really didn’t expect them to succeed but these remarkable birds have beaten the odds.”
Turquoise Z © Richard Tough
Wing tags that allow the RSPB to identify individual birds helped them to uncover this extraordinary story.
In previous years, Turquoise Z has bred with a female known as Turquoise 1 in Fife. Both were released in 2009 as part of an East Scotland reintroduction programme.
When RSPB Scotland staff saw Turquoise Z in Angus in April, with a female sea eagle known as Red Z, it was thought that he had abandoned his mate in Fife.
However, thanks to the wing tags, the RSPB could confirm that he was visiting the nests in both Fife and Angus, sharing the incubation of the eggs and providing food.
In Fife, Turquoise Z and Turquoise 1 raised a female chick (tagged Blue X), while in Angus, Turquoise Z and Red Z raised another female chick (tagged Blue V).
Both chicks have taken their first flights from their nests, and will start to hunt and leave their parents’ territories in the next few months.
Both the chicks have been tagged for future monitoring purposes, this is Blue X from the Fife nest © Richard Tough
Read more about this story on the RSPB’s East Scotland Sea Eagles blog.
Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine