The high-flying drama that has surrounded a Southwest D.C. bald eagle nest took its latest turn Wednesday as Justice, the male eagle at the center of the drama, made a surprise reappearance.
Justice had been missing for about two weeks before returning to the nest he had shared with his 14-year mate, mother eagle Liberty, Wednesday afternoon.
He was last seen after mating with Liberty on Feb. 9, before flying the coop and leaving Liberty to lay two eggs by herself.
But this time, Justice was the one in the lonely hour, as Liberty has appeared to move on. After two weeks of waiting, Liberty has mated with a new eagle and left the two eggs.
The eagle family drama captivated D.C. residents and eagle watchers, according to Tommy Lawrence, Managing Director of the Earth Conservation Corps, which helps to maintain a live stream of the eagle nest high above the D.C. Police Academy property in Southwest.
"The search for Justice ... resulted in hundreds of people reaching out with photos of bald eagles," Lawrence said. "While none of them were proven to be Justice, it is a great reminder to the DMV area that bald eagle populations are quickly coming back and inhabiting urban areas."
The drama unfolded after Justice disappeared on Feb. 9, leaving Liberty to lay her two eggs on Feb. 12 and Feb. 16 by herself. At the same time, several suitors, including one dubbed "Aaron Burrd," attempted to swoop into the nest, but Liberty resisted their advances.
But after two weeks of loneliness, it appeared Liberty had had enough of mourning for her mate.
Signs emerged that the two eggs she laid were no longer viable, other birds began circling the nest for a takeover and Liberty eventually mated with a new male.
Since returning, Justice and Liberty have not been seen together. Liberty and her new companion, an eagle named M2, are now using the nest, and Lawrence said they were spotted over the last few days around the nest. M2 even spent a night in the nest, he said.
Lawrence said it is possible that Justice now fights off M2, to reclaim the nest, or that M2 fends off Justice, driving him from the nest he and Liberty called home for several years.
The two had hatched 22 eaglets together before the whirlwind drama tore them apart.