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Growing up fast

By Staff | Apr 28, 2020

Harriet and M15, the area’s most famous bald eagle pair, have seen their two offspring develop quite nicely since hatching nearly a month ago.

The eaglets, dubbed E15 and E16 for eaglets 15 and 16, have gone from being cute little downy fluff balls to that awkward, middle stage before they finally transition into what they will look like when they’re ready to fledge.

“We are excited at how the eaglets are progressing. We have seen great growth and a few small challenges but all seems to be going well,” said Virginia McSpadden, a founder of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, which has shown all the action in the nest and vicinity.

The youngsters have learned to “cast pellets,” — regurgitate indigestible materials such as bone and feathers, since they are now eating prey instead of the prime meat the parents gave them when newly born.

The regurgitation of pellets serves the bird’s health by “scouring” parts of the digestive tract, including the gullet.

It took them nearly two weeks for them to hold their heads up for feeding. But have mastered that as they have also developed a secondary coat of gray down, and, if you look closely, you can see the start of some feathers developing.

Those feathers will slowly start to grow in over the next few weeks and, while the down coat is an excellent insulator (as for the first few weeks the eaglets cannot regulate their own temperature), it is otherwise useless.

By the time that happens, the eaglets are about as large as their parents. As it is, they are starting to get a look at what is going on beyond the nest and getting ready for that first flight.

“They are just starting to be able to see above the nest rails and are really getting curious with their wings. It’s a fun time to be watching for sure. We hope folks can tune in and escape their “everyday” from time to time,” McSpadden said.

Viewers can see all the action in and around the nest in a big pine tree on the Pritchett Real Estate property off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers on the SWFL Eagle Cam website www.swfleaglecam.com.