A baby eagle emerged from its shell on Saturday, just in time for New Year’s Eve.
The eaglet, known as E9, hatched at 7:33 a.m. for all the world to see.
The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, sponsored by Dick Pritchett Real Estate Inc., has maintained a constant vigil on the 60-foot-high nest of mother eagle Harriet and mate M15 as they have tended to their two eggs in a North Fort Myers tree. The camera was set up four years ago to monitor the nest of the American bald eagles and had been viewed by more than 60 million people worldwide as of Saturday evening.
“SWFEC is excited to announce the first hatch of the 2016/17 season,” the camera’s website announced. “E9 hatched at 7:33am on 12/31/16! Welcome to the world E9!” An impressive audience has kept tabs on the virtual nursery. The number of live-cam viewers at any given time Saturday was in the tens of thousands.
Excitement has been building since Thursday afternoon when a crack, or pip, was observed on one of Harriet’s two eggs. Harriet laid her first egg Nov. 22; the second arrived three days later.
For days, Harriet constantly and carefully huddled over her eggs, and she had a challenge keeping them warm during the cold snap Friday evening and overnight. M15 has been no slouch, fetching food and helping out with keeping the eggs warm.
Their diligence paid off Saturday morning as the first eaglet emerged from its shell. Proud papa M15 could be seen and heard crying out from a nearby branch shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, celebrating his expanded family.
A check of the nest at 4 p.m. showed mom feeding her fuzzy hatchling beak-to-beak, sharing bits of a fish that was delivered to the nest by M15 the day before. E9, who could be heard chirping from time to time, spent its first day of life nestled next to the shell that still surrounds its sibling.
Apparently needing to get away, Harriet took off from the nest about 5:20 p.m. Saturday. About 10 minutes later, M15 took over the parental duties. He fed the hungry little fellow another helping of the not-so-fresh fish. He also took some time to tidy up the nest and then gingerly straddled the eaglet and remaining egg, providing warmth as the sun set and before mother’s return.
In the meantime Saturday, a sizable crack appeared in the second egg, indicating the E9’s sibling should make an appearance soon. As far as the calendar goes, it looks like it will be a matter of wait until next year for egg No. 2, which came along three days after the first laying.