HOW come Slovakia’s most popular celebrity eagle, Arnold, has changed gender? Has he undergone some kind of surgery? No, but ornithologists have recently admitted they were wrong when assessing the gender of the famous bird, who had a transmitter attached to her body which tracked her winter migration to Africa and her return flight.

“We have known this for some time already,” head of the Tatra National Park (TANAP) Administration Pavol Majko told the SITA newswire. “We already had some indications soon after her arrival, and later it was confirmed when Arnold, or rather Anna [diminutive is Anička – Ed. note], sat on the eggs. We have published the information only now, after the online broadcast from the lesser-spotted eagle nest started. It is better to admit the truth than to lie,” Majko concluded.

Majko explained for SITA how it was possible for experts to get Anička’s gender wrong. “Eagles don’t have such dimorphism as ducks; and birds have no classical sexual organs. Females are usually bigger and after three ornithologists agreed on the bird’s gender, we didn’t want to stress the animal out by conducting a DNA test, which would have been the safest way to determine the sex,” Majko said.

Now, they want to fit Anička’s partner with a transmitter and follow their winter migration to Africa, as they are curious to see whether they will fly together, and even return together. Until the eagle couple leave the nest, the public can watch them online, together with their one offspring (which pushed the other, weaker one out of the nest), at spravatanap.sk or kukaj.sk.