North Fort Myers eaglets fledge, on way to adulthood
In a season that has lacked the drama of previous years, one more massive milestone has been passed by the Pritchett Farm eaglets – their first fledge.
As had been the case by earlier clutches, this season’s eaglets fledged at nearly the same time. E10 fledged on March 14 at 8:43 a.m., while E11 flew the coop on March 16 shortly before 8 a.m.
This is significantly earlier than previous eaglets in the past. Last season, E9, accidentally fledged on March 14. In the past, the eaglets fledged in late March or early April.
The eaglets will now practice their flying and landing skills, as well as the ins and outs of hunting for food on their own. Their parents, Harriet and M15, will continue to bring food to them for a few weeks before they are left on their own to forage, which will be around the end of April or early May.
According to the Fish & Wildlife Services, the eaglets will stay close to the nest during the first few weeks. Since their hunting skills are poor, they will eat dead carcasses until they start gaining the skills. They will harass their parents and take food from them, practicing the art of foraging.
Eventually, the adults no longer tolerate the offspring as the bond fades at between 17 and 23 weeks. Once the eaglets leave the area, they spend the next few years foraging.
In the first year, the mortality rate of eagles is greater than 50 percent, but decreases sharply after that as they develop their skills.
Harriett laid her eggs in the nest off Bayshore Road on Nov. 19 and 22, and they hatched less than 24 hours apart on Dec. 26 and 27, respectively.
Since then, the eaglets have enjoyed a drama-free childhood, finally branching at the end of February.
The season has been bereft of any deaths or injuries that have befallen previous nesting seasons. Last year, one egg was unviable, two years ago, E8 had two misadventures that resulted in her being hospitalized, and the previous two seasons resulted in one of the babies dying in the nest.
The Southwest Florida eagle cam may be viewed in real time at dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html