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Second eaglet finally fledges; now missing from nest

By Staff | May 9, 2016

Just a few shorts days after fledging, the eaglet dubbed E8 is missing from its nest tree after an apparent incident in the early morning hours over the weekend.

Both eaglets in the nest on the Pritchett property off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers were seen resting on a branch, when an owl apparently knocked both fledglings off their perch at around 3:30 a.m., Saturday. It is the last time E8, the younger of the two, has been seen on the Pritchett Eagle Cam.

The mother, Harriet, the father, M15, and E7 have since been spotted, but E8 has not been seen either on site or on camera.

Andrew Pritchett, of Carter-Pritchett Advertising and the person in charge of the Pritchett Eagle Cam, said E8 is believed to have been found around 4 p.m. in someone’s backyard, having been scared into some thick brush. Rescuers have not been able to capture it.

Pritchett said representatives from CROW, a wildlife rescue organization on Sanibel, are aware of the situation. There was no other update as of Monday morning.

A video of the incident with the owl was posted on Facebook this morning Pritchett said.

“It’s very unfortunate. That owl really gave them a good whack. We’ll see what happens,” Pritchett said.

According to a television report Sunday, a woman said she found the eaglet across the street, and he appeared to be injured.

She said the eaglet had one leg showing, which was obviously broken and hanging by the tendons.

Florida Fish and Wildlife came out to investigate, but the bird was scared into the woods and flew away, the witness said.

The news cast a pall over the exciting news last week that E8 had finally fledged. The eaglet spread its wings and did a victory lap around the nest tree before returning to the nest.

The day before the incident, E8 had set foot on solid ground for the first time, making a successful, but far-from-perfect, landing. Both landmarks were recorded for viewing.

Finally, last Tuesday afternoon, more than two weeks after its sibling made its first flight, E8 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,” Pritchett said at the time of the fledging. “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. E7 fledged on April 16, at about 11 weeks, which is considered pretty much on time.

E8 has had a trying time. Born second, it had to spend its early days fighting its slightly bigger sibling for food, usually losing.

Then 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 E8 from its entanglement and brought it to the CROW facility on Sanibel for evaluation.

The bird spent three days at the CROW facilities, 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 was slow. E8 had barely branched when E7 took flight, and it 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.”

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.

The video of the eaglet/ow incident may be seen on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam Facebook page under video highlights.