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Harriet lays second egg, countdown begins

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Dec 30, 2020



Southwest Florida’s most popular eagle pair is now counting down the days before they become parents once again.

Harriet now has two eggs, laying the first on Dec. 16 at 4:58 p.m. and the second one on Dec. 19 at 4:45 p.m. Assuming a standard 35-day incubation period, the new brood of eaglets will hatch toward the later part of January and fledge sometime in April.

Ginny Pritchett McSpadden, one of the founders of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, said the new eggs round up what has been a whirlwind of a year.

“We were excited to see the first egg because with the second clutch from last season, we weren’t sure what their mating pattern would be this season,” Pritchett McSpadden said.

The moment was shown live on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, provided by Dick Pritchett Real Estate. The cam will show all the goings in the nest and its vicinity for the 10th consecutive year. The website has had nearly 156 million views since going online in 2011.

What started with one camera mounted over the nest has become four cameras, including ones 60 feet from the nest, to the north of the pond, and the Cam 360, which provides a 360 degree look into the eagles’ activities.

It was how fans of Harriet and mate M15 were able to see the eaglets fledge from the nest off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers last year.

“We see them fledge every year, but with the 360 Cam you can control the view, so if we missed it or didn’t have a zoom on it, you had the control in your hands and can see it live,” Pritchett McSpadden said.

M15 and Harriet have been sharing the egg duties, though M15 has been doing a great job providing food to share. In the past several days he has delivered a possum and a rabbit to the nest. It will be a preview of things to come once the eggs hatch and the eaglets build an appetite as they grow.

Because of the circumstances of last year, Harriet laid her eggs about a month later than normal.

Last year, Harriet laid two eggs in November. One egg was not viable, while the other egg was, but the eaglet died in January after apparently ingesting rat poison from a contaminated meal.

Harriet and M15 produced another clutch in late February, which hatched in early April. Both eaglets survived and left the nest in late summer.

One thing that has been noticed in recent years is that the eggs tend to get laid later in the afternoon, just before sunset.

“That’s been the norm for her. The second egg laid almost three days to the minute. Missed by about 12 minutes,” Pritchett McSpadden said. “I think there could be biology there.”

The Southwest Florida Eagle cam may be viewed at https://swfleaglecam.com.