Every year at this time, attention moves to the Pritchett Farm in North Fort Myers as eagle cam watchers the world over wait for Harriett to lay her eggs.
On Tuesday, Harriett did just that, by laying the first of what will most likely be two eggs, signifying the countdown to the birth of the newest bald eagles.
Harriett laid her first egg at 4:57 p.m. Tuesday, with the second one not coming until Saturday at 5:58 p.m. This began the process of regular eggkeeping, with the eagles nudging, aerating, changing the position and brooding over them, with M15, the dad, getting a peek from time to time.
The first egg was laid four days earlier than last year, meaning that the egg should hatch around Dec. 17, with the second egg three days later if the standard 35-day incubation period follows.
It also signifies the earliest that Harriett has laid eggs since at least 2012, when the Pritchett Eagle Cam started.
“It’s just another exciting milestone in the season. With all that is going on and the lifespan of these birds, we’re really fortunate to have this opportunity again,” said Ginny Pritchett-McSpadden, who runs the eagle cam.
People literally around the globe watch the eagles in action on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, which has had more than 140 million views since it debuted in 2012, making this the eighth season Dick Pritchett Real Estate has provided the live look into this bald eagle nest.
Harriett and her first mate, Ozzie, had been at the farm since 2006. Though there is no definitive age for Harriett, it is believed she is approaching 30 years old, which Pritchett-McSpadden said is about the lifespan of an eagle.
“We’re fortunate to be able to see her for this long and still have her lay eggs,” Pritchett-McSpadden said. “We believe this is M15’s first mate. We think he’s around eight to nine years old. That makes Harriett a cougar.”
This season the eagle cam will use four cameras. Camera No. 1 is positioned six feet above the bald eagle nesting tree and is equipped with night vision or infrared light, Camera No. 2 is located approximately 60 feet from the nest and has the ability to capture images of the nest action outside the view of Camera No. 1.
Camera No. 3 is installed closer to the north of the pond, to capture activity happening around the pasture and in the pond area.
Cam 360 is located in the nest tree and the first ever live camera in history to capture a 360 degree look into a bald eagle’s daily activity.
Pritchett-McSpadden said, for the first time, people will be able to watch all four cameras at the same time thanks to a revamped website.
Among the things people have been able to see are frequent owl attacks, including one Tuesday night on M15 as it was sitting in the tree. There was also some intruder drama on Sunday
“I think the eagles will be on extra guard this season. There is so much construction happening in the area that the homes of the owls are being destroyed and they are looking for new homes,” Pritchett-McSpadden said. “They are looking for ones like the eagles that are perfectly done.”
The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam may be found at dickpritchettreal estate.com/eagle-feed.html .