First Harriet, now the eaglets; Eagles vanishing at North Fort Myers nest -- one may be back
Harriett the eagle vanished from her North Fort Myers nest Feb. 2. Now, her first eaglet, E21, has not been seen since Friday afternoon, and the second, E22, flew off Sunday and has not returned.
Monday dawned on an empty eagle nest along Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.
Over the weekend both recently-fledged eaglets departed.
The last time anyone saw E21 the young eagle was winging eastward. That was some time on Friday afternoon and the first of Harriet and M15's 2022 eaglets has not been seen since.
That's oddly the same scenario as the raptor's mother, who vanished from the nest Feb. 2 and hasn't been seen since.
The eaglet's sibling, E22, flew off Sunday and had not yet returned as of early in the morning.
However, shortly after 9 a.m. Monday an eaglet was seen in several locations around the nesting tree. No identification was made but a reference was made on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam Web Facebook site to E22 being the likely bird.
A posting on the site shortly after 8:30 Sunday night said it all: "No sight of E21. Keep safe Eagles ...".
Virginia Pritchett McSpadden, the website owner and operator, confirmed E21 has not returned.
"Abnormal," McSpadden postured Sunday. "But not uncommon."
And during a chat on the cam web site, McSpadden, in response to a question from a chat participant, said the 2022-23 season has been intense ... and not over yet.
"We expect the E's to return and so hoping to see them at the pond," she said.
While attention was focused on E21 late last week, the eaglet's sibling, E22, made its fledgling flight, and more, and returned to the nest.
Additionally, there were strikes by an owl on E22. The strikes have knocked him from his perch, but seemingly the eaglet is none the worse for the attack.
Monday morning McSpadden said the eaglets' actions were not expected behavior.
"I can’t really say. It’s definitely a first for us at the nest," she said in a text conversation with WGCU. And then added, as a lot of eagle watchers are likely thinking, "Maybe dad has both somewhere safe away from spectators and owls?!"
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, young birds usually remain in the vicinity of the nest for several weeks after fledging because they are dependent on their parents for food until they disperse from the nesting territory approximately 6 weeks later.
But the USF&WS also cautioned about the interference of human activity saying that for nestlings 8 weeks through fledging this a very sensitive period when they are gaining flight capability and may flush from the nest prematurely due to disruption and die.
The National Audubon Society concurred: "The timing of actual fledging can be influenced by human activity or disturbance around the nest, causing a premature fledge. This can result in injury or even death of the eaglet."
Other visitors and administrators at the web site and it's corresponding Facebook page have commented on E21's being absent and held out hope for his return.
"M15 delivers a fish to the nest. Hopefully, he’s looking for E21 now," Joanne Williams, listed as a site administrator and group expert, posted around 8:30 Sunday night.
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