One of Shiloh National Military Park’s most beloved visitors has gone missing.
Julia, the female half of the park’s popular nesting pair of bald eagles, has not been seen since March 1, said Park Ranger and Spokesperson Chris Mekow.
Julia, along with her mate, Hiram, have drawn photographers and nature lovers to the park since they began nesting just off of Riverside Drive 13 years ago.
Mekow said a photographer saw Julia on Monday evening March 1 and she has not been spotted since. Her disappearance has also led to another tragic loss as the pair’s two hatchlings have died.
Since Julia disappeared from the area, explained Mekow, other eagles have been encroaching on Hiram’s territory.
“The male has been defending the territory and keeping other full-grown eagles away from the nest,” said the Ranger.
With that increased responsibility Hiram hasn’t had time to properly care for the fragile young eaglets and they were both found dead.
Mekow said while Julia has not been seen, they aren’t giving up hope. He noted she did disappear a few years ago for an extended period and later return.
“We just don’t know. It’s nature,” he said.
The eagles have proven to be a popular attraction at the busy national park through the years. The location of their nest not far from the ground and just off an easy to access paved road makes them extremely accessible to both casual and serious birdwatchers and photographers and provides a unique opportunity to see and photograph America’s national bird.
The pair carries names appropriate to their residence on the hallowed grounds of Shiloh National Military Park. The male, Hiram, bears the given name of Union general and later President Ulysses S Grant who was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. Julia is named for Grant’s wife. Bald eagles are unique in mating for life and the pairs will typically stay
The eagles are typically winter residents at the park. They normally lay eggs in January with the eaglets hatching in either February or March and leaving the nest by May.