It’s no coincidence this story lands on Valentine’s Day, a holiday that celebrates love, companionship and all the feels.
Since 2015, the staff at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest have been tracking a rare golden eagle they named — with the public’s input — Harper, an ode to founder Isaac Wolfe Bernheim’s brand of bourbon (I.W. Harper). But in late January, they spotted a second golden eagle, which they were able to briefly capture and affix a GPS satellite transmitter to.
Turns out the two eagles are friends — and possibly lovers — as Harper is male and his new mistress, Athena, a name the public voted on this week, is 12 pounds of female. Neither has made the relationship Facebook official, but love must be in the air.
“These two golden eagles are spending time together,” Andrew Berry, Bernheim’s forest manager, said in a news release. “From the transmitter signals, we can tell they are roosting and flying together. We have also observed them in the field and on trail cameras together.”
If these two are indeed dating, Bernheim staff believe it might be the first pair of golden eagles tracked together in the eastern United States.
Bernheim’s large forest block habitat (16,137 acres) may have turned into the ultimate love nest for the lovebirds, providing critical preservation of this magnificent species.
“Kentucky’s golden eagles need large forest blocks to survive the winter,” Berry said in the release. “This project has shown that golden eagles at Bernheim avoid inhabited areas, staying within 5,000 acres of protected interior forest.”
He expects Harper and Athena to honeymoon at Bernheim at least through early March when they’ll then head north to their summer nesting grounds in Canada. And like dedicated paparazzi, Bernheim is sharing all the couple’s information and whereabouts with others in the golden eagle research community.
“This research will help inform international conservation practices,” Berry explained in the release. “We are studying their migration stopover locations and the habitat these raptors require on their journey to Bernheim from Canada. International efforts are required to protect eastern golden eagles, as with many species of birds that migrate to Bernheim.”
What will ultimately confirm the couple’s status, according to Berry, is if the two decide to travel together to Canada.
We believe this love story could best be summed by the Kenny Loggins song “Meet Me Half Way” from the “Over the Top” soundtrack that had nothing to do with love but everything to do with Sylvester Stallone and arm wrestling. Enjoy.