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'Tangled' eagles stop traffic on Route 101 in Bedford

New Hampshire UnionLeader

February 26. 2012 5:55PM
Two eagles appear tangled in the roadway of Route 101 in Bedford early Sunday morning. (COURTESY PHOTO/TFC Stephanie Clarke)

A pair of bald eagles that stopped traffic on Route 101 Sunday morning for an hour were likely mating.

Stacey Cole, who has written a nature column for the Union Leader for nearly 50 years, said the middle of a busy road is an unusual location for the species to choose, but during mating season, anything can happen.

'I can't figure anything to cause two eagles to mate in the middle of the road except they were both ready to do that. I'm glad that nobody hit them,' Cole said.

New Hampshire State Trooper Stephanie Clarke said she was heading out to patrol around 6:30 a.m. when she came across two cars stopped in the eastbound lane near the Everett Turnpike.

'There were two cars stopped in the middle of the road, in what looked like an accident,' Clarke said.

The two eagles were tangled on the road and the drivers were trying to protect the birds, which appeared agitated, and skittish. When anything moved near them, they would make for the high-speed lane, Clarke said.

Clarke said she tried to keep the birds safe, and keep other drivers from getting into an accident while she waited for Fish and Game officers to arrive. The birds did not appear injured, she said.

'It looked like they were tangled up together,' she said. 'To be honest, I'm not a bird specialist.'

Before Fish and Game could respond, the birds disengaged from each other and flew away.

'It was a pretty amazing spectacle to watch,' Clarke said.

Cole said anyone who witnessed the event should consider themselves lucky.

'That's the most unusual story I've heard in a long time,' Cole said from his Swanzey farm Sunday night. Cole said female eagles are usually courted while flying, then mate with the male in a tree. A busy highway seems like a much less likely location.

'I think I would call that an unusual event,' the 'Nature Talks' columnist said. 'Those who have seen it or have watched are privileged to see nature in its wildest.'

When the birds eventually flew off, they seemed to head in the same direction, Clarke said.

Any other day of the week, when traffic is heavier, bald eagles on the highway could have caused accidents, she said.

'Something bad could have happened,' Clarke said Sunday.

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