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Healed and Set Free, Martha Finds George

Martha, left, and mate George were seen this week near their longtime Wilson Bridge nesting area, 90 miles from where she was released May 6.
Martha, left, and mate George were seen this week near their longtime Wilson Bridge nesting area, 90 miles from where she was released May 6. (By Stephanie Spears)

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By D'Vera Cohn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006

George and Martha are together again.

The bald eagles, which have nested near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge since the late 1990s, were wrenched apart in April when Martha was rudely attacked by another eagle. After healing, Martha was released May 6 in Delaware, 90 miles away. She was spotted this week back with her mate in her old neighborhood on the Potomac's Maryland shore.

There has been no sign -- so far -- of her attacker, presumably another female coveting Martha's territory.

The George and Martha saga made headlines nationwide. The attacker was branded a homewrecker, the episode Brangelina-esque. Biologists attempted to explain above the clamor that the invader was probably looking for a place to nest in a shrinking habitat.

While Martha mended at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, George tended the nest. Their eggs did not survive.

Bridge construction workers were convinced that the eagle would find her way back and were watching for her. She has a silver band on her leg, and her beak has a distinctive stripe from her injury.

One worker, Randy Graham, saw a bald eagle flying near the pair's longtime nest May 18. He mentioned it to Stephanie R. Spears, environmental specialist on the bridge project. During an employee tour of the new span Sunday, Spears said she was approached every few minutes by people asking: How's Martha?

Spears and her mother went looking and finally spotted two eagles perched in a tree. The birds flew. The women pursued. Spears thought she saw the injured beak, snapped a picture and went home to enlarge it on her computer.

"There is no mistaking her," she said yesterday.

It is too late for George and Martha to have chicks this year, but biologists expect them to try again next spring. Bald eagles are known for loyalty to their mates.

"There are so many negative things happening these days," said Penny Spears, Spears's mother, "that it's great to hear a story of survival."


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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