Southwest Florida Eagle Cam begins sixth season
The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam began its live streams Sunday, opening the sixth season with three high definition cameras place around the nesting site off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.
The setup, which allows views worldwide the follow the activities of the eagle matriarch dubbed Harriet and her mate, M15, will again feature three live cams.
“Cam 1 will again have the functionality to pan and zoom on action happening in the nest, giving viewers an up close view into an eagle’s ecosphere,” a release from the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam states. “Cams 2 and 3 will provide a wider angle look into the famous eagle’s home.”
The cams were first introduced by Dick Pritchett Real Estate in 2012 and have since garnered “more than 112 million views from over 200 different countries worldwide,” the release states.
The realty company on whose property the birds nest “launched the cameras that observes the eagles in their natural habitat in hopes of providing an educational and learning experience.”
Since then, more than 50 schools have used the live streams in the classroom.
The fact that then cam is up and running is not the only good news for Harriet’s and M15’s fans.
Hurricane Irma tore down trees nearby, but the nest stayed intact. The eagle pair was seen last week doing nest repair to strengthen it after the storm and to prepare for nesting season, which is expected to happen right around Thanksgiving.
Andrew Pritchett, who runs the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, said he was thrilled to see the nest and the birds still in the area.
“It’s amazing to see what nature can do, and their nest was able to survive the storm,” Pritchett said. “We started seeing them a few days after the storm. The photographers have seen them adding sticks to their nest. They seem to be back to business as usual.”
Even if the nest had been downed, it is likely the pair would have rebuilt, experts say.
Melody Kilborn, spokesperson with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said nests being destroyed in a major weather event is common.
Bald eagles generally rebuild their nests in the same nest tree. If the nest tree is damaged or destroyed, eagles will likely look to a close, large tree to build a new nest.
“For this reason, we encourage the preservation of larger trees nearby the eagle nest to allow for eagles to re-nest when they return to their breeding territory,” Kilborn said.
Research has even been done to examine how eagles reproduce.
A study by the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary discovered that during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which hit the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia, only 46 percent of pairs that lost nests attempted to breed the following season, compared to 85 percent of pairs that did not lose nests.
Of the pairs that made breeding attempts, only 69 percent of pairs that lost nests during the hurricane produced young compared to 83 percent of pairs that did not lose nests. Average brood size was also reduced for pairs that lost nests, according to the study.
It’s a relief that the North Fort Myers eagles, made famous by the Pritchett Eagle Cam on the Pritchett Farm off Bayshore Road, came through the storm without having to rebuild, Pritchett said.
“We’re relieved. The tree lost some limbs, but all in all the structural integrity is there and the nest looks great,” he said.
Eagle fans can follow Harriet and M15 at www.dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html
Donations to the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam Foundation, created by the Pritchett family to help maintain the camera for future live streams and projects are always welcome. Visit www.southwestfloridaeaglecam.com/