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Lone eagle cam eaglet dies

By Staff | Jan 15, 2020

Lee County’s most famous eagle pair, Harriet and M15, will not see their only eaglet fledge this season.

E14 died early Wednesday morning from a broken blood feather on the left wing less than a month after it hatched.

E14 was born Dec. 19 in the nest off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers that is captured on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, viewed by nature lovers worldwide.

A second egg laid this year was not viable and was buried.

Andrew Pritchett, founder of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, said the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife and a bucket truck came to remove the remains from the nest and CROW examined the eaglet after approval from The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service and the FWC.

“We wanted to retrieve the remains to determine the cause of death and to see if there is anything we need to be made aware of,” Pritchett said. “It’s something that’s unfortunate to happen.”

The eaglet was reported to have some sort of injury and was bleeding. It was speculated that the eaglet got snared in a fish hook or was attacked by an owl in the nest.

There was no hook or foreign objects in the body, but the staff noted the entire left side was covered in blood, apparently from the broken blood feather, which delivers blood to the growing feathers.

Pritchett said he wasn’t aware of anything like that, but learned it was a major artery and the reason people were seeing blood that made it appear to be an outer wound.

“Nobody knows how or why it broke. After hearing about this, it’s a first for a lot of people to see. Some of our moderators had never seen this occur,” Pritchett said.

Pritchett said he hopes it’s still early enough in the season for Harriet and M15 to raise a second brood.

“The hope is they will try again, but it’s unknown if they will. The owls have been around more this year,” Pritchett said. “We’re all going to see what happens soon enough.”

E14 was reported dead around sunrise. Out of respect to the viewers, the cameras were turned away from the nest, which is something that hadn’t done in the past.

“This year, we saw a little bit of the parents picking at E14. It was just one of those things where it was right to turn the camera away,” Pritchett said.

When the eaglet called E5 diesd in 2014, viewers watched as the dead eaglet was turned into food for the remaining chick, which horrified some viewers.

At the time, the camera on the nest was fixed and unable to move and, rather than turn the camera off, which they did after E3’s death the year before, they let it run.

Pritchett said it was a very sad day for fans and those involved with the eagle cam.

“It’s not our job to interfere with nature. The proper authorities reached out to us and we agreed that it would be beneficial to retrieve E14,” Pritchett said. “We’re all trying to abide by the law.”