WHERE'S HARRIET? Mom eagle missing from nest for days; Dad M15 defends, feeds eaglets
Editor's note: Harriet remained missing Sunday morning. The owners, and a number of followers, of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam have been making search forays in the area but did not turn up any evidence of the female eagle.
The female partner of the North Fort Myers breeding pair of Harriet and M15 has not been seen around the Bayshore Road nest since Thursday, raising all manner of concerns, worries and comments from the thousands of online viewers of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.
Sunday dawned with the nest's two eaglets huddled together; their mother remained missing.
Ginnie Pritchett McSpadden, Southwest Florida Eagle Cam owner and operator, was cautious but concerned about Harriet's behavior.
"This is very unusual activity for our seasoned and dedicated mother eagle," she said in a text late Friday to WGCU. "We don’t have any answers or information to provide at this time, other than the most beneficial thing viewers can do is pray and hope for the best. We have been in touch with CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel) on potential next steps if an injured Harriet is found. M did an amazing job today defending the nest and the Eaglets. It’s a tough time but we hope for a return."
While Harriet is away, for whatever the reason, the male, M15, has been taking care of the two eaglets born weeks ago, E21 and E22. He has been feeding them and defended the nest from a larger, female eagle who tried to intrude.
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.
The web site is a popular stop for many bird and nature lovers with more than 186 million views since it was put in place.
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.
Harriet was originally paired with another eagle, Ozzie, making the nest their home every year from fall to spring since 2006. Ozzie was injured and died in fall 2015. Harriet and M15 bonded later in the fall of 2015.
FIRST EGG: Harriet lays first egg of 2022-2023 season
Second egg hatches and the eagles start raising a family
Some of those who have been watching the nest have been making suggestions, urging and carrying out searches and the like. McSpadden and other moderators of the web site have asked for calm and caution since the area where the nest is located is quite rural and wooded and laced with likely venomous snakes, alligators and other injury-producing conditions.
For now the site is keeping an eye on M15, E21 and E22 and hoping that Harriet makes a return. Soon.
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