Watertown, New York:
It was eagle-eyed zookeepers who noticed first. The DNA testing only proved what they already suspected.
The Thompson Park Zoo's American bald eagle breeding program was going nowhere. Not with two males, anyway.
"We had our suspicions right away. The birds are virtually the identical size," said Director Glenn D. Dobrogosz, who laughed Tuesday about the gender mix-up that provided a comical start to the zoo's new eagle breeding program.
"It happens. Not a lot. But it happens," he said.
The two American bald eagles - supposedly a male and female - arrived at the zoo last July from the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
The two males became good buddies but zookeepers quickly realized there would be no amorous flights for these two, Dobrogosz said.
Because bald eagle males and females share the same coloring characteristics, it is difficult to determine gender by visual inspection. However, in most raptor species, the female is slightly larger than the male, he said.
Based on their size and behavior, the Alaska center mistakenly thought it had sent a male and a female, Dobrogosz said. It wasn't until the Thompson Park Zoo took blood samples for DNA testing that it confirmed the birds' sexes.
"Sure enough, they both were boys," he said.
Now that the confusion has been cleared up, zookeepers are once again focused on the romancing.
One of the males is being sent to the Clinch Park Zoo in Traverse City, Mich. Meanwhile, the Watertown zoo already has received a new female from another raptor rehabilitation center on Sitka Island in Alaska.
"We're positive this time," Dobrogosz said, heading off the inevitable inquiry about the bird's gender.
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