A modern family of sorts from the Quad Cities area has become an online sensation.
It’s a livestream on YouTube of one family in Fulton, Illinois.
Their story has been picked up by national news like NPR, Fox News and CNN.
“Poland, Germany, New Zealand, Israel,” lists Pam Steinhaus,visitors service manager at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Those are some of the countries where she says people have reached out asking for pictures, video and history of the characters in their livestream YouTube channel.
The stars of the show?
Well, it started in 2012 with Hope, Valor I and valor II.
They’re all bald eagles.
Here’s a recap of past seasons:
“Tragedy struck in March of 2017 when we had a pair of eagles coming in, just attacked that nest constantly. Hope, she was an older eagle by that time and she was in a battle for her life,” Steinhaus explains.
Hope never made it back to the nest.
An eagle trio is rare to begin with but what the two dads did next, was a plot twist even for researchers.
“Then the big question was: What’s going to happen?” Steinhaus recalls.
“I thought they’d stick together long enough to raise the two chicks, which they did– But I was really kind of surprised that they stayed together and took in a new mate,” says photographer Stan Boussan.
Enter Starr, the new mate.
Steinhaus calls it “cooperative nesting.”
“They’re all involved in the copulating, the building the nest, the incubation and then raising of the young. And it’s just an amazing thing to watch,” she says.
Bousson is among the show’s earliest viewers; he’s been watching the changing trio for 15 years.
“It became more drama every single year,” Bousson says.
Bousson started monitoring the nest on his own private cameras but teamed up with Steinhaus at the wildlife refuge for an educational opportunity.
“If you don’t have a boat and you’re not a fisherman, you really don’t get to get on the water or get involved on the Mississippi, so this is one way where people can get conencted back to nature,” Steinhaus says.
As for this season, both Steinhaus and Bousson have one hope.
“This nest has quadrupled in size since it first started,” Steinhaus says.
“It’s all on one limb and it’s got a lot of weight and this wind and with all the high water that we have– Gets us a little nervous.”
At about 10 feet deep and six feet across, the nest now carries three adult eagles and three eaglets.
“My biggest hope is that they’re still there next year,” Bousson says.
So, if you’re just tuning in, there’s still plenty of drama– and education, ahead.
You can find the livestream link and more information on how you can help keep the cameras rolling by clicking here.