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Second eaglet hatches; Harriett and M15 get down to the business of raising a family of eagles

The second eaglet of Harriett and M15 hatched Saturday morning. An official hatch time has not yet been announced.
Southwest Florida Eagle Cam
Special to WGCU
The second eaglet of Harriett and M15 hatched Saturday morning. An official hatch time has not yet been announced.

It took a tad bit longer but E21's sibling — E22 naturally — finally came fully into the world Saturday morning.

With thousands watching via online the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam E22 shucked off the rest of its shell and joined the family. An official "hatch" time has not yet been set.

Ginnie Pritchett McSpadden, Southwest Florida Eagle Cam owner and operator, was happy with the way this season was progressing.

"This is our 11th season and (has) already been an incredible journey watching the pair completely rebuild their nest after Ian hit," she said Friday. "E21 seems to be thriving and we think (once hatched) E22 will as well with the careful watch of its seasoned parents. We are just happy to have the opportunity to watch them this season. After Ian and repairing our equipment as best we could & very last minute- it’s a blessing and true joy to help give our community and world a happy story to follow along."

Harriett and M15 have been visually entertaining bird lovers and others for years via the internet. They have been incubating two eggs at their Bayshore Road nest.

Harriet laid egg 1 on Nov. 29 at 6:09 p.m. and egg 2 Dec. 2 at 8:09 p.m.

The Bayshore Road site in North Fort Myers where the nest is situated is owned by Dick Pritchett Real Estate, also sponsor of the cameras livestreaming the pair, which was started in 2012.

Those cameras have allowed nearly 184 million people to view the eagles over that time. Friday night there were as many as 1,900 watching at times.

And it hasn't all been safe and healthy for the eagles since 2012, there have been tragedies among the triumphs at the nest.

Most recently, the eagles were forced to rebuild after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on their nest.

"They have worked hard at rebuilding their nest from scratch after Hurricane Ian destroyed it and now they are starting a new family in this freshly built nest made with love," the eagle cam website said.

And there have been larger problems.

Harriet was initially paired with a different eagle male, Ozzie, making the nest their home every year from fall to spring since 2006. Ozzie was fatally injured and died in fall 2015. Harriet and M15 bonded later in the fall of 2015.

There have also been eaglet issues.

In 2019 Harriet and M15 produced two eggs in the nesting season with one of the eggs being unviable. The second eaglet, named E14, later died from apparent poisoning.

There was a bright spot though. In late February, 2020, a little more than a month after the second eaglet died, Harriet and M15 produced a third egg. A fourth egg soon followed.

That second clutch is not without precedent in the eagle world. Several other eagle couples around the U.S. have also laid second clutches of eggs after their first eggs were untenable.

The eagle pair's second set of eggs went on to hatch and eventually fledged, or left the nest.

And, with the current brood, just overnight, E21 was seen on camera close to the "rail" or outer edges of the nest, by itself, accidentally pushed there by it's mom's legs. Harriett, sleeping, woke to see her eaglet in a precarious position and quickly moved to roll it back under her.

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