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E21 fledges, E22 fledge imminent

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Mar 30, 2023

Eaglets E 21& E22 in their nest off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers. Photo courtesy of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam

If you were to say eight weeks ago that the eaglets of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam would fledge, knowing that Harriet, their mother, was gone, people would have thought you were bucking some pretty bad odds.

But on this morning at around 7:30 a.m., E21 took its first flight from the nest off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers and was welcomed back by its sibling, E22, who delivered it the kind of eagle whooping that E21 had given its sibling for the past three months.

Previous seasons on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam have been pretty routine, though there has been the occasional death or injury in the nest, and some seasons started later than the others, but the season has ended with one or both eaglets fledging and leaving.

As for this season, the only thing that was usual about it was how unusual every day seemed to be. It started on Feb. 2, when Harriet, the long-time matriarch of the nest, went missing and never returned.

That made M15 a single father who had to provide food and safety for two growing eaglets. In the day before E21’s fledge, dad was on something of a hot streak, bringing home many large fish in a short period of time that E22 started to take as its own, finally fighting and winning its meal.

Meanwhile, several intruding female eagles were coming to the nest to steal food and hoping to grab the attention of the male eagle. There seemed to be one that M15 liked, with both hanging out together on one of the branches.

Not only didn’t the eaglets perish, they were pretty much on schedule when it came to their growth cycle. They also got initiated into the neighborhood with the obligatory late-night owl strikes.

E21, which hatched on Jan. 4, saw its fledge come at day 85 of its life after branching on March 17 and getting more daring by the day before its beautiful maiden flight at sunrise.

As for E22, which hatched on Jan. 7 and was subdued at times by its older sib, branched on March 21. It has branched to the attic for the first time, meaning its first flight should come any day.

The eaglets will hang around the nest for the next few weeks, flying more often and getting a birds eye view of the land. They will start learning to hunt and dad will allow them to earn their own food before finally going off on their own.

What happens after that is unknown. M15 will have to look for a new partner after being with Harriet for eight years. Once M15 finds a new mate, which will not likely take long, it will be for life.

To see the happenings in and around the nest live, visit https://dickpritchettrealestate.com/southwest-florida-eagle-cam/.