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Questions arise concerning viability of second eagle egg

By Staff | Dec 26, 2019

North Fort Myers most famous eagle pair Harriet and M15 may find themselves limited to clutch of one this year — the hatching window is closing for their second egg.

There was still no sign of a pip as of Thursday afternoon, more than five days late for its expected hatch. There was believed to have been a small crack earlier, but that turned out to be dirt from the nest and the new eaglet with all those feedings.

E14 hatched on Dec. 19 around noontime. The second egg was set to hatch around Saturday afternoon, but as of Thursday, there was still no sign it would do so.

Thursday marked day 40 since the second egg was laid. Once it reaches that point, it will become unlikely that the second egg will hatch.

Christy Pritchett, who helped create the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam with her sister, Ginnie, said she was still holding out hope that the egg will still hatch.

“We have a few days and based on historical information we have on them, it’s still possible the egg will pip and see an eaglet emerge,” Pritchett said. “As time goes on, if don’t see anything, there is that possibility.”

If the egg does hatch, that eaglet will face heavy bullying by its sibling, who will be much bigger and stronger in a daily battle for food. It is rare, but not uncommon for the older sibling to kill the smaller one. The parent will not stop the killing.

This wouldn’t be the first time an egg failed to hatch. In 2016, one of Harriett’s eggs, E9, got buried deep beneath the nest off Bayshore Road on the Pritchett Real Estate property. They were able to dig it out six days later, but the egg was no longer viable, since the parents weren’t able to keep the egg at a proper incubating temperature.

After a few days of waiting and hoping, Harriet buried the egg in the nest, which eventually collapsed in early 2017 and was rebuilt.

This year, Harriett laid her first egg at 4:57 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, with the second one not coming until Saturday, Nov. 16, at 5:58 p.m. The eggs are supposed incubated for about 35 days before hatching, but they have gone up to 40 days before hatching.

After E14 hatched, it seemed to use the egg as a pillow, somewhere to lie as it slept and waited for its next meal. It has remained healthy and happy.

“You couldn’t ask for any more. She’s doing great and its really fun to watch,” Pritchett said. “We hope that other egg hatches. I wish we could tell you something nobody else knows.”

This time around, the egg did not appear to be in that much trouble. Harriet and M15 have taken turns incubating their young, maintaining the 105-degree temperature the embryos need for proper development.

Speculation was already rampant on Thursday during the live chat on the eagle cam website that maybe Harriet has gotten too old to have regular successful births.

Indeed, Harriet is believed to be in her mid to late 20s, which is rather old for an eagle. However, moderators did not believe this was the case.

The live Southwest Florida Eagle cam may be viewed at dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html