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NFM?resident eagle ‘Harriet’ begins nesting season

By Staff | Nov 20, 2013

It’s only a matter of time before Ozzie and Harriet, the bald eagles that have made the Pritchett farm off Bayshore Road their home for the past six years, will have offspring like they had last year with Hope and Honor.

Harriet laid her first egg Sunday afternoon at 4:38 p.m. and was expected to perhaps lay another one late Monday or Tuesday.

This brought out the eagle lovers to see how they were handling the laying.

Donna, who asked her last name not be used, was watching the eagles next door at the church along with others along the fence line.

“Ozzie was on the nest from 4 a.m. to about (8:30),” Donna said. “Harriet grabbed some nesting material and came back and went to the pond for more.”

David Mintz, an animal photographer from Lehigh Acres, was taking pictures of the eagles, with the best shot of Harriet fluffing her wings.

“We’re expecting another egg today or tomorrow. I’ve only been watching them for a couple of weeks when I found out about them,” Mintz said.

Photographers and on-scene views are not the only ones following the nesting pair with interest: Dick Pritchett Real Estate Inc. is again hosting its popular “eagle cam” at www.dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html .

There, viewers worldwide that watch the pair live, this year, from two camera angels.

Last year, the eagle cam got more than 17 million visits as people watched Ozzie and Harriet lay their eggs, and waited with bated breath as they produced two offspring on New Year’s Day, Hope and Honor.

On Monday, Ozzie and Harriet were busy, sharing shifts keeping the egg warm while the other hunted for food or shored up the nest.

While Ozzie cared for the egg, Harriet went out to find more materials for the nest, When it was Harriet’s shift, Ozzie could be seen in a nearby dead tree, on the lookout for food.

The parents will roll the eggs around every few hours. Harriet takes the night shift and will switch off for the entire period of gestation.

Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said the eagles lay between one and three eggs per season and protect them as if they were hatchlings.

“They’re going to try to keep the egg warm and safe from predators, which is an issue,” Morse said. “They will do this while fending for themselves and the eggs mature.”

Morse said the eagles’ lives won’t change that much, except they now must care for the egg and make sure they care for themselves.

The incubation period is about five weeks, which should make hatching time for the first egg just before Christmas, which is among the coldest times of the year in Southwest Florida.

“That typically happens and the birds are prepared to deal with those situations,” Morse said. “It’ a matter of protecting the young. Sometimes they perish, but keeping them warm and dry is the most important thing.”