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Southwest Florida Eagle Cam viewers see some action

By Staff | May 13, 2020

Bullying owls and bones a bit too big to swallow — it’s been a challenging week for North Fort Myers most popular eagle family.

It’s never easy for a family raising its young, and that proved true this week for eagle parents Harriet, M15 and their young in the nest at the Pritchett Farm off Bayshore Road.

Everyone, including eaglets E15 and E16, were well, but there were some moments that made viewers of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam very nervous.

Thursday night, a great horned owl — one of the few predators bald eagles have — attacked Harriet, knocking her off the branch she was on and sending M15 into a screaming spree.

Harriet was fine, but it brings up a sad fact of nature — these eagles and their young are targets, and attacks like this a quite frequent.

“It’s happened before. The owls do this just about every year,” said Andy Pritchett, founder of the SWFL Eagle Cam. “Owls like to use eagles nests as their own.”

In 2015, eaglet E8 was knocked from the nest and feared dead. It was discovered a week later, alive but with a broken leg. The juvenile eagle was sent to the CROW clinic in Sanibel for three months of rehabilitation and then released into the wild.

Harriet has been attacked by owls and crows many times, including once last October.

Then on Saturday, eaglet E16 quite literally bit off more than it could chew.

E16 found a joint L bone on the nest and tried to swallow it. Unfortunately, it got stuck in its throat and the eaglet had to shake its head violently to try to get the bone out. E16 was able to spit the bone out and everything was caught on camera as the eagle cam got up close to show everything.

The eaglets are now almost fully grown at six weeks old. They should start to branch and exercise their wings in the next two weeks before taking flight for the first time, which happens when they are 10 to 12 weeks old, about a month from now.

This whole season has been a rough one for Harriet and her mate, M15. Their first clutch resulted in one egg not being viable and their lone eaglet, E14, dying less than a month after hatching, on Jan. 15.

The couple tried again, with Harriet laying two more eggs in late February. E15 hatched on March 31, with E16 hatching April 2.

“The year has been a roller coaster ride, but it’s nature at its finest and how it can rebound, and it shows just how resilient the eagles and the babies are,” Pritchett said. “It’s exciting to watch different the facets of their lives and educational at the same time.”

The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam can be viewed at dickpritchettrealestate.com/