First egg begins to crack as eagle watch continues

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FILE Photo of Harriet, the eagle, at her nest in North Fort Myers in December 2016.

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — The saga of Harriet the Eagle and her eggs continued to captivate the tens of thousands of people who tuned in Thursday to the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.

One of the eggs began to hatch shortly after 2:30 p.m., and the other should hatch soon.

Harriet, a female bald eagle who’s been nesting in North Fort Myers since 2006, has become well-known over the years thanks to cameras that the nearby Dick Pritchett Real Estate agency set up and maintains. Interest has grown exponentially as the two eggs she laid in November have grown closer to hatching.

CNN, The Weather Channel, local news stations across the country — and WINK News, of course — have run live streams from the cameras, spreading the latest chapter in a story that’s featured a fight over Harriet between two lovers, the hatching of two baby eaglets and repeated injuries to one of those eaglets.

People have tuned in from as far away as China, and some viewers have sent in photos of their pets watching and waiting:

Zorro, a 27-year-old parrot belonging to Jo Ellen Bradley of Naples, watches the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.
Zorro, a 27-year-old parrot belonging to Jo Ellen Bradley of Naples, watches the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.

The hubbub has prompted many questions from viewers eager to learn more about bald eagles. Here are some bald eagle facts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

  • Florida has one of the densest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs.
  • The bald eagle was removed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list in 2007 and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission imperiled species list in 2008.
  • It continues to be protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty acts, along with a Florida state rule.
  • Incubation for bald eagle eggs normally lasts about 35 days. That’s about two weeks longer than it takes for chicken eggs to hatch.
  • The life expectancy of a bald eagle in the wild is 28 years.
  • One of the primary threats to the bald eagle is lead poisoning. The bird will eat deer and other animals killed with lead bullets or fish affected by lead fishing gear. That gets into the eagle’s blood and leads to health issues.

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