Eaglets getting ready to hatch in NFM
It has been a rather harrowing week for Southwest Florida’s most famous eagles, but if all goes to plan, there will be two new eaglets in the nest at Pritchett Farm late this week.
Harriet and mate M15 are busy not only incubating the eggs, but also protecting them and themselves from predators — namely, great-horned owls who spent much of last week harassing the eagles, even providing a few licks to M15, who was knocked out of the attic by an owl attack.
The action was shown on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, which has given a detailed look at the goings on in the nest off Bayshore Road, including the attacks.
“Just to see the owl attacks and the cold temperatures and the egg rolling, it is not easy. The female usually is on the eggs, so M15 has been the one taking the brunt of the attacks. But he seems to pop back up and stand over Harriet to protect them,” said Virginian Pritchett McSpadden, who helped found the Eagle Cam.
It was the fifth time in six days the eagles had been attacked by one of their only predators. M15 was sleeping in the attic when the attack happened Friday evening.
M15 crashed in the branches below but recovered and flew toward the church while the owl went west. M15 returned to the attic, very vocal and upset while watching the area fervently for a couple of minutes.
He then dropped to the nest to be with Harriet, and stayed on the nest for several minutes before he returning to the upper attic.
Owl attacks have been commonplace in the nest. On, May 7, 2016, an owl attacked the two eaglets, E7 and E8, and knocked them out of the nest. E7 returned the next day, E8 did not and was feared dead. On May 13, nearly a week after the attack, volunteers found E8 alive in a nearby neighborhood with a broken leg. E8 spent the next three months at CROW in Sanibel, recuperating.
“About the only enemy they have is the great-horned owl. This is a normal happening during season. They are a lazy raptor looking for an easy nest to take over. They’re just following their basic instincts,” McSpadden said of the owls.
McSpadden said the big story is that there should be a “pip” by the time this article gets to print. Everyone is getting excited that a hatching could begin.
“It’s the most popular time of the season when we start to see the crack in the egg and the eaglet come popping out. Everyone falls in love with them,” McSpadden said.