If you’ve been watching the Southwest Florida (SWFL) eagle cam live online, but aren’t sure exactly how it all started for Harriet, M15 and E9, consider this a guide. We will explore the beginning of what we’re calling SWFL Eagle Cam Season 5, the relationship between Harriet and M15 and E9’s growth until he or she finally leaves the nest. There are previous seasons (including live streaming cams, videos, photos other mates and other eaglets) but we are only focusing on Season 5 in this guide. As this is a post, it will continually be updated until the end of SWFL Eagle Cam Season 5 which will happen once E9 leaves the nest for the last time. Okay, let’s begin.
SWFL Eagle Cam Season 5: A Guide
Beginning in August 2016, Harriet and M15 were working on a nest in a slash pine tree, located in North Fort Myers, Florida. In Season 4, Harriet and M15 raised two eaglets called E7 and E9, despite their efforts to repair their old nest, it was beyond repair and Harriet and M15 began building a new nest together. The eagle’s nest is located on a horse pasture on private property Dick Pritchett owns. Dick Pritchett established three live cams in trees on his property that film the eagle’s nest without causing a disturbance or intrusion to the birds. One of the cams is above the nest and uses infrared and night vision technology, allowing viewers to watch nest activity 24/7. The nest is about 50 feet up in the tree. The cams began streaming for SWFL Eagle Cam Season 5 on September 25, 2016. There is a lake where Harriet and M15 bathe and fish. One of the three cams regularly pans over the landscaping and you can see the horses grazing by the water. In addition to the lake, the Pritchett property is in close proximity to the Caloosahatchee River where the eagles can also spend time fishing.
When watching the SWFL Eagle Cam through YouTube, you can toggle in the task bar to switch camera views. You can also view all three cams as they stream on the official Dick Pritchett site.
The YouTube user Wskrsnwings began filming the nesting site before there was a finished nest and before the official Dick Pritchett Southwest Florida eagle cam began streaming Season 5 live. You’ll find that Wskrsnwings continues to visit the site and create her own YouTube videos of the eagle’s nest. These videos stand out as many other YouTube users capture highlights and featured moments from the live eagle cam, but Wskrsnwings actually creates unique videos with audio commentary from the site. Her videos are absolutely essential viewing material for anyone following the SWFL eagle cam. You can watch the video playlist below that features the adventures of Harriet and M15 beginning on Augst 23, 2016 until Sept. 25, 2016. Eagle season officially began on Oct 1, 2016, and the Dick Pritchett SWFL eagle cam officially began streaming gon Sept. 25, 2016.
Wskrsnwings has a Facebook page where she shares her original photos taken from the SWFL eagle’s nest and site. This is a recent post from Wskrsnwings, not one from the beginning of the season. Be forewarned, watching live eagles can get a bit gruesome at times as these raptors are certainly not squeamish when it comes to their meals.
During the time frame that the cams were being installed, set up and made live, the official Dick Pritchett Southwest Florida Eagle Cam site shared two photo albums on Flickr detailing the nest. You can see those photo albums below.
September 25, 2016, The SWFL Eagle Cam Goes Live!
The official Southwest Florida Eagle Cam (SWFL) went live on Sept 25, 2016, many users also shared video footage from that stream. Lady Hawk has followed the SWFL eagle cam for multiple seasons and shared the first video online. You can watch that video below. The cam went live and Harriet and M15 quickly became the stars of Season 5. In addition to Lady Hawk’s video capture from the live stream, Whiskrsnwings was at the tree and filmed original video as well.
Whiskrsnwings captured two videos that make up a total of 3 hours showing Harriet and M15 putting finishing touches on their new nest.
It wasn’t long after the cam went live that torrential rains poured in Florida. You can watch a video of Harriet and M15 clinging to a branch in the midst of the rainstorm below.
After the SWFL Eagle Cam went live, nest building continued for the remainder of September until the official start of eagle season kicked off on October 1. Here is a playlist of Harriet’s and M15’s nest building activity as continued throughout September.
Bald Eagle Season is Here: Oct. 1, 2016-May 15, 2017
October 1, 2016, was the official start of eagle season that runs until May 15, 2017. M15 and Harriet celebrated by continuing work on their new nest. It seemed clear that M15 and Harriet had learned much from their past season together and they worked diligently and in unison to create their new nest. The two spend a great deal of time talking about where each stick will be placed. You can watch a video playlist from Oct 1, 2016, in the videos below.
October 2016: Continuing with the Nest
October saw much of the same activity with M15 and Harriet carrying on with nest building. M15 and Harriet were filmed multiple times throughout the month with large sticks held in their beaks as they collected materials for their nest. If an invader came near the tree, they promptly scared it away and many other birds were filmed in the area. The live cam showed the eagles perching against a backdrop of many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Another highlight captured on video is Harriet entering the pond on the pasture in order to cool off and take a bath. You can also see as Harriet tests out the nesting bowl to ensure it is the right size for her future egg laying. It’s important to realize that M15 and Harriet carefully choose every branch or clump of grass for the nest with a specific goal in mind. They don’t just randomly grab any stick lying on the ground. They search and select each piece that will make up the nest that will be home for their new baby or babies until they fledge.
A black snake was caught on film slithering in the nest on Oct. 8, 2016. Check for M15’s close encounter with a horse on Oct. 9, 2017. On Oct. 11, 2016, the first food delivery was made to the nest. Harriet is a bit bossy when it comes to her relationship with M15. They have mated and it’s easy to see they are becoming closer every day.M15 continually brings food gifts for Harriet. Look for the opossum M15 brought Harriet on Oct. 25, 2017. As they put finishing touches on their nest, it seems it will be the perfect place for their new family. By the end of October, viewers looked for an incubation patch or brood patch on Harriet as this is the first sign the female eagle would soon lay eggs. You may watch a video playlist featuring Harriet’s and M15’s nesting activities, mating and bonding from October 2016 below.
November 2016: Nesting, Bonding, Food Gifts and Eggs
As October slid into November, M15’s and Harriet’s bond grew stronger. He brought daily gifts of food for her, ensuring that she would have the physical stamina needed to lay eggs, properly incubate them and care for their young. The eagle pair started off the month with mating rituals and making certain their nest was perfect. Each eagle regularly tested and adjusted the size and shape of the nest bowl. Harriet and M15 certainly are vocal birds and you’ll hear mating calls as well as intruder alerts and warning vocalizations.
On Nov. 2, 2016, a juvenile bird visited the nest and M15 was very friendly and tolerant with the bird. Another juvenile eagle visited the nesting tree on Nov. 13, 2016. The videos are included in the playlist. While there is no way to know for sure, many have wondered if it was E7 or E8. Did Harriet’s and M15’s eaglet or eaglets from the previous season return home for a visit? We will never know for sure, what do you think?
Harriet enjoyed a nice bath in the pond and caught some prey while taking a break from nest-building activities on Nov. 3, 2016. Look for the video in the playlist. You can watch Harriet and M15 stop by the pond and take a bath on Nov. 6, 2016. M15 brings Harriet the best food gifts and on Nov. 7, he brought what appeared to be a Sherman fox squirrel to the nest. The gifts continued and on Nov. 12, M15 brought fish and a rather large rabbit to the nest for Harriet. The video “Quiet Moments at Pond” is a beautiful depiction of Harriet’s and M15’s love as they proudly perch side by side in perfect unison and contentment. It’s as if they know their family is about to expand and they are in perfect peace. Fish and turtle were on the menu for Nov. 14, 2016. With a rabbit dinner following on Nov. 15.
By mid-November, it seemed that Harriet was preparing herself for laying eggs during the month. In previous seasons, Harriet laid eggs in November and it seemed everything was on track to continue the cycle. On November 20, 2016, Harriet’s brood patch was clearly visible. She would be laying eggs soon.
On Nov. 22, 2016, at 5:03 p.m., ET, Harriet laid the first egg. Everything appeared to go according to nature’s plan. A wonderful video shows M15 seeing the egg for the first time and by Nov. 23, 2016, M15 relieved Harriet of her duties and gave her a much-needed break. M15 incubated the egg before switching with Harriet. Once M15 was relieved, he brought more material to the nest and reinforced the guard rail. It was noticeable that both M15 and Harriet spent time away from the egg. It isn’t uncommon for continual incubation to occur once all the eggs are laid and there was a great chance that Harriet would soon deliver at least one more egg. Harriet has typically laid two egg per clutch.
By Nov 25, 2016, M15 continually buried egg 1 (then called E9) and Harriet would dig the egg out from under the brush and nesting materials and incubate it. This procedure kept occurring with M15 continually burying the egg. To this day, it is unclear why M15 chose to keep burying the egg. On Nov. 25, 2016, at 6:13 p.m. ET, Harriet laid the second egg. When the second egg was laid, the first egg was still buried and Harriet later dug it out to begin incubating both eggs. From the beginning, it wasn’t clear whether the first egg was viable. It is possible that M15 knew something was wrong with the egg and kept burying it repeatedly. On Nov. 26, 2016, only one egg (the second egg) was seen in the nest.
November 22, 2016: Harriet Lays First Egg
Harriet laid the first egg on Nov. 22, 2016, at 5:03 p.m. ET. You can watch as she laid the egg and even see as M15 saw the egg for the first time in the videos below. M15 relieved Harriet of her duties and she took a little break. Though both eagles spent time away from the egg, it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary and the warmer Florida climate helps ensure that the egg remains healthy, strong and viable. There were high expectations a second egg would soon follow.
M15 Buries Egg On Nov. 25, 2016
The fate of egg #1 (then called E9) was in question when on Nov. 25, 2016, M15 deeply buried and completely covered the egg. Red flags immediately arose and many questioned the viability of the egg even then. The live streaming eagle cam shows nature as it happens and there is no human interference. No one will ever know what prompted M15 to take this action. You may watch the video of M15 burying the first egg below. The egg remained buried and wasn’t seen again until Harriet moved the nest material around on Nov. 27, 2017. On Nov. 28, 2017, Harriet began incubating the first egg along with the second, even though the first egg had been buried too long to be viable.
November 25, 2016: Harriet Lays Second Egg at 6:13 p.m. ET
Since M15 buried the first egg, there was initial confusion as to whether Harriet laid the second egg, or if the first egg had simply emerged. As the videos came in, it was clear that Harriet did indeed lay a second egg on Nov. 25, 2016, at 6:13 p.m. ET. The first egg was E9 and the second egg was E10. The second egg never hatched making the first eaglet to hatch E9. This resulted in confusion for many people as well as they weren’t sure whether the egg that failed to hatch was E9 or E10. Some people eventually chose to call the first egg “Eggbert,” due to the fact that it became a near permanent fixture in the nest. M15 and Harriet continually buried, reburied and incubated the first egg. It seemed that once Harriet laid the second egg, her maternal instinct kicked into high gear and she wouldn’t let the first egg go. On Nov. 26, only one egg was visible in the nest, the second egg. On Nov. 27, 2016, Harriet aerated the nest and the first egg became visible. M15 later began digging towards the egg. Since the egg had not been turned every quarter hour, there was no hope the egg was viable. Though many still believed a miracle could be possible.
On Nov. 28, 2017, Harriet dug up the first egg and began incubating it with the second egg.
November 28, 2016: Harriet Incubates Both Eggs
After digging out the nonviable egg, Harriet began incubating both eggs on Nov. 28, 2016. Watch the video below to see Harriet dig out the egg.
December 2016: Watching, Waiting and Welcome to the World E9
As November came to a close, Harriet and M15 spent the first days of December incubating and brooding the two eggs. The first egg was nonviable, but many hoped for a miracle as it seemed unusual that Harriet would dig the egg out and incubate it with the second. M15 proved to be a devoted and faithful mate as he never strayed far from the nest either being on the porch or the attic and always close by. When Harriet needed a break, she would signal and M15 would be right there, ready to relieve her of her duties and give her a moment to herself. M15 would incubate the eggs while Harriet would stretch her wings, preen or take a quick dip in the pond. Harriet runs the show, there’s no question about it, and M15 is all too willing to do whatever Harriet wants and needs. Ah, the perfect couple.
Harriet ad M15 consistently rolled both eggs and incubated them, but it was too late for the first egg. Still, Harriet showed as much love and devotion to the nonviable egg as she did the second. You may see a photo of both eggs in the nest below.
Here is another photo album from Flickr with many highlights from the 2016/2017 SWFL Eagle Cam Season 5 featuring the eggs.
The more you watch the videos as well as the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam live stream, the more familiar you will become with eagle vocalizations. Harriet and M15 are very vocal birds and soon, you might recognize other eagle calls in your own environment. The playlist below features many vocalizations from Harriet throughout Dec. 2016.
On Dec. 16, 2016, M15 spent some time wading in the pasture pond. For those who haven’t seen the panoramic view of Pritchett’s land, the following video may be of some interest. In addition to the eagle’s nest, there are horses on the pasture and M15 and Harriet visit the pond along with the horses. You can watch a video of M15 spending time at the pond and see photos of the beautiful pasture land where the eagle cam is set up below.
Watch: M15 Wades in the Pond While Horses Graze By
Welcome to the World E9: Pips, Eye Tooth Hatching and Feeding
On Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, the SWFL Eagle Cam was officially on “pip watch.” This meant that viewers (as well as Harriet and M15) were watching the egg for sounds and signs of the shell breaking. The baby eaglet would peck and pick at the inside of the shell with his eye tooth until eventually hatching and entering the world. Dec. 28 marked the official pip watch as the egg was now in the window for hatching. There were no signs of pips until Dec. 29, 2016, right on schedule!
At 2:31 p.m. ET, Harriet moved in the nest and the SWFL Eagle Cam zoomed in on the first pip You may watch videos of E9 and the pip below. See a closeup photo of the pip or crack in the egg shell in the picture.
On Dec 30, 3016, the egg tooth was visible from within the egg and it was clear that E9 was working hard on getting free. You can watch a video closeup below that shows the movement inside the egg as it occurred on Dec 30.
The pipping continued throughout the night of Dec. 30, 2016, and Harriet was very attentive to her little baby which would soon emerge.
E9 was busy at work and on Dec. 31, 2016, at 7:33 a.m., E9 officially hatched from the shell. You can watch the full video of E9’s birth process as it occurred in the video below. Also included are photos of E9’s first moments.
Watch: Welcome to the World E9! Born Dec. 31, 2016, at 7:33 a.m. ET
Watch: E9’s Adorable First Moments Caught on Video
E9’s First, Second and Third Feedings
Watch: E9’s First Feeding
Watch: E9’s Second and Third Feedings
January 2017: A New Eagle Family is Born