Global interest a surprise to SWFL Eagle Cam manager

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NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — When you think of real estate, you think of houses and land.

But when you think of Dick Pritchett Real Estate, you think of a bird that soars high above them.

Andy Pritchett, who’s in charge of running the camera for his father’s agency, said they had no idea that setting up the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam would elicit the sort of global interest that has led tens of thousands at a time to tune in.

“We figured we wanted to share it with the community, and lo and behold, we have it shared with the world,” Andy Pritchett said.

A female bald eagle named Harriet laid two eggs in November with her mate, M15. One of the eggs could hatch at any moment, while the other is expected to hatch later this week.

Live streams from the Eagle Cam on CNN, The Weather Channel — and WINK News, of course — have allowed thousands to follow the latest chapter in a more-than-yearlong saga that’s featured a fight over Harriet between two lovers, the hatching of two baby eaglets and repeated injuries to one of those eaglets.

Several people did more than just tune in Wednesday, showing up to the wooded area near Harriet’s nest where the Eagle cam is positioned, not far from the Pritchett agency. Donna Muse, one of those in attendance, confirmed just how widely known the eagles are.

“I traveled to China in November, and do you know one of the first things someone asked me was about the Eagle Cam in the United States?” Muse said. “It’s everywhere. You wouldn’t believe it.”

The camera is only active during dry season, when the eggs are typically laid. Events like hatchings draw large audiences, but plenty of eyes are on the nest even on an average day, according to Andy Pritchett.

“It really is surreal,” he said. “You don’t think about it when you come into work every day and you drive by the eagles. You smile, but you don’t realize people from all over the world are enjoying it right along with you.”

Pam Hartmann, who drove from Tampa to stake out the nest Wednesday, said she normally checks the camera every other day. That becomes a daily ritual when hatch time approaches. Amid a year when a contentious presidential election and a near-constant stream of celebrity deaths dominated headlines, the eagles are a feel-good story.

“It’s positive and I think that’s something we need more of, and I think that’s why everyone’s drawn to it,” Cape Coral resident Judee Hein said.

All the attention puts Southwest Florida and its warm winters in the spotlight, just as much of the country shivers.

“I don’t know anywhere else that has an Eagle cam!” Muse said.

Read about Harriet’s rise to notoriety

Watch a livestream from Harriet’s nest here: http://bit.ly/2izUS7o.

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