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Eaglets fledge, but not without drama
March 20, 2019

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The eaglets that have been raised by Harriet and M15 are fast becoming young adults, and on Wednesday and Thursday became the latest eaglets from that couple to fledge. But it didn't happen without a little bit of drama.

E12 and E13 both took their first flights and have seemed to take to it quite enjoyably, as both have been seen circling the area around the nest, flying higher and longer each day.

However, Ginnie Pritchett-McSpadden, who is in charge of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, said it was a traumatic week after E13 was knocked off a branch by an owl, one of the few predators eagles have.

"E12 fledged on Wednesday, but that night, while the birds were starting to spend their nights in the attic (the area above the nest), which is another sign of development, E13 got attacked by an owl and was knocked down before its first flight," Pritchett-McSpadden said. "Fortunately, it was able to land below the nest."

Fortunately, E13 was uninjured and made its way back to the attic, where it would fledge later that day. Pritchett said after the first flight of E13, both eaglets were flying off to other places.

"They're growing and thriving and doing exactly what they should be doing," Pritchett-McSpadden said. "The eaglets have really been part of the game this season and have done things a lot quicker than we have seen."

Owls have been a problem at the Pritchett Farm nest in recent years. In 2016, an owl attacked the nest, sending both eaglets away from the nest. E7 returned the next day, E8 did not and was feared dead. On May 13, volunteers found E8 alive in a nearby neighborhood with a broken leg.

E8 was sent to CROW for rehabilitation and recovery for three months before being released into the wild in August.

"Owls are the eagles' only real predator, so they have to be aware of them because there's always a danger out there for them," Pritchett-McSpadden said.

For the next month or so, the eaglets will continue to hone their flying skills and watch their parents to see how they eat, hunt and fend for themselves. By early May, the birds will be on their own, Pritchett-McSpadden said.

E12 was laid on Nov. 16 and E13 was on Nov. 19, both in the late afternoon. E12 hatched from its egg at 11:26 a.m. on Dec. 23, while E13 was hatched approximately 10:35 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

All told they went a little over 11 weeks between hatching and fledging.

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