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Second eaglet finally fledges; E8 takes wing

By Staff | May 6, 2016

Things haven’t been easy for eaglet E8 in her short life. From being trapped in her nest, to a hospital visit, its life has been anything but boring.

Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, more than two weeks after its sibling made its first flight from its nest on the Pritchett property off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers, E8 finally had its turn, leaving the nest in flight before returning later on.

“It was a long time coming, but we knew it would happen. It’s exciting to see how successful it was after the year it had,” said Andrew Pritchett of Carter-Pritchett Advertising who also is in charge of the Pritchett Eagle Cam. “It’s great to see the family had a great season and looks to be healthy.”

At nearly 14 weeks, E8’s fledge was a little later than normal. It’s sibling, E7, fledged on April 16, at about 11 weeks, which is considered pretty much on time.

E8 has had a rough road. Being born second, it had to spend its early days fighting its slightly bigger sibling for food, usually losing.

On Feb. 8, E8 had to be rescued from its nest after it got caught there, presumably by some fishing line.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, LCEC and a local MasTec contractor came together, secured a bucket truck and rescued the eaglet from its entanglement and brought it to the CROW facility on Sanibel for evaluation.

E8 spent three days at CROW, where it was fed, had its injured foot treated and got over a case of dehydration before it was returned to the nest.

Since then, development has been slow. E8 had barely branched when E7 took flight, and took more than two weeks before it was ready to fly.

“We can all speculate that all this delayed its growth. Being the smallest sibling, you’re deprived of food by the older one,” Pritchett said. “The less food it had, led to it developing slower.”

As for E8, Michelle Van Deventer, eagle expert with the Florida Wildlife Commission, said it may have been the fact the older sibling, likely female, beating up on the weaker one, likely male.

“They fight a lot in the nest. The older eaglet was able to have the genetics, dominated the food in the nest, and developed at a faster pace than the other,” Van Deventer said.

As for the future, E8 will follow the same progression as E7. It will sharpen its flying and hunting skills while still being provided with food by the parents.

Within four to 11 weeks, each youngster will disperse toward the eastern seaboard or to the mountains in search of a territory of its own, Van Deventer said.

All in all, after two seasons where the mother, dubbed Harriet, and her mates lost one of their babies, it has been a very successful nesting season.

“It’s been an up-and-down season, but we’re happy to see everyone happy and healthy,” Pritchett said.

The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam can be viewed at dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html. The site, which has enthralled millions of visitors since its inception in October 2012, provides a two-camera perspective of the nest 24/7 as well as ongoing eagle updates during the nesting season, typically October through May.