NORTH FORT MYERS
A beloved Southwest Florida eagle has been missing for more than 24 hours. M-15 and the two eaglets remain at the nest, but Harriet is nowhere to be found.
The news of Harriet’s disappearance has stirred up quite the conversation, and some worry for her safety. M-15 has had to take over parental duties.
M-15 and the eaglets are about to spend their second night in a row without Harriet.
WINK News saw three other eagles in the area on Friday, putting the eagle family on edge. Especially M-15, who was seen locking talons with them and defending his babies at their North Fort Myers nest.
Raptor specialist from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, Beth Lott, says eagles lock talons when mating or fighting.
Since M-15 already has a mate, it’s likely M-15 was defending his territory.
“It’s not living like we do. It’s surviving, which is a lot harder. So yes, they’re constantly fending off predators that would feed on their babies and themselves,” said Lott.
Harriet has not been seen since Thursday afternoon, and Lott says with two babies that aren’t even a month old yet, that’s a concern.
“We get a lot of territory attacks in with eagles, what this sounds like it possibly could be. Another eagle came into their territory, and they got into a fight. And maybe Harriet possibly didn’t come out good on that end of it. And they really go after each other. It’s not just to hurt them, it’s to. They’ll go and kill them.”
It’s not clear where Harriet is or why she left.
In the meantime, M-15 was seen protecting the eaglets from the other intruding eagles.
“We have seen three. Yes, that is correct. One that looks to be a full adult with a white head and a white tail and two sub-adults that are still very dark and have dark beaks and they don’t have white feathers on their head… They’re not mature,” said Karen Devens, an eagle photographer.
Devens loves coming here to observe the eagles. She saw M-15 lock talons with the other eagles multiple times.
“He will eventually have to leave to get food for himself and the babies. And that’s when they’re going to be at their most vulnerable,” Devens said.
Lott said when eagles have babies, one parent typically stays near the nest while the other hunts for food. She says it is not common for one of the parents to be gone this long.
The Dick Pritchett Southwest Florida Eagle Cam has been keeping track of the eagles in North Fort Myers for years. On Friday night, their website had this simple message: “Sleep safely Eagle Family and come home Mom.”
You can watch the eagle cam by clicking here or in the player below.