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First flight

By Staff | Jul 8, 2020

It was only a matter of time before E16 took its first flight, especially since the young eaglet was laggingly more than two weeks behind its older sibling.

Last Wednesday morning at 9:18 a.m., nearly 13 weeks after it was born, E16 finally fledged from its nest on Bayshore Road, with the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam capturing much of the action.

“It’s been an exciting week for the eagle family. E16 finally took its first flight and ended up by the pond. The pond in the pasture has quickly become E15 & E16’s favorite place to explore, bathe and relax in the shade,” said Virginia Pritchett-McSpadden.

The first flight resulted in a picture-perfect landing atop the Cam 2 tree. However, the first attempt to return to the nest for breakfast didn’t go as planned.

The flight back took E16 below the nest, where it hanged upside down and then dropped through the branches to the ground. Lesson learned: birds aren’t squirrels. They are intended to fly.

A third flight found E16 exploring the west pasture before returning to the nest pasture, flying to the pond when a car drove by.

Before long, E16 was seen in the pond with its sibling, pulling things out of the water, bathing and enjoying some shade.

E15 fledged accidentally on the evening of June 15, missing a branch while branching and landing in a pile of branches before falling to the ground.

The next day, E16 started to branch, finally able to get room to do so after E15 branched. For two weeks, E16 jumped from branch to branch, using its wings to gently lift off and land for very short distances.

The wait was worth it for E16, as it proved much more prepared to fly than its sibling. The first flight was a thing of beauty and the eaglet didn’t seem intimidated to take to the air again.

The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam chat room went crazy with messages of congratulations for E16, which saw traffic pick up once the news of the fledge was announced.

The fledglings have spent much of the week exploring the farm, bathing themselves in the pond, and E15 even took its first flight across Bayshore Road and back before returning to the nest.

“Our Pond Cam is in the perfect location to watch them up close. It’s been a truly unique and mesmerizing experience,” McSpadden said.

Throughout all of this, parents Harriet and M15 have continued to provide food and nurturing for the growing eagles. M15 has even begun to make the kids fight for the food the adults provide as a preview of what’s the come in the near future.

Expect E15 to leave the nest in a few weeks. E16 could end up there for another month or so, learning to hunt and honing its flying skills as the very long, but eventually successful, nesting season comes to a close.

The fledglings will continue to get food from their parents as long as they are still willing to feed them. How long they stay with their parents depends on how independent they feel.

If the fledglings go off on their own too quickly, it could mean death during the first year. They will continue to stay somewhat near the nest for as long as three months.

“Both young eagles are learning fast and will soon leave the nest area,” McSpadden said. “This has been an extremely long season for the adult eagles so we expect they too will leave the area before hopefully returning for another nesting season in late August or September.

The Southwest Florida Eagle cam may be viewed at dickpritchettrealestate.com.