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Starting early: Harriett has already laid her eggs

November 29, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

When Thanksgiving rolls around, it usually means that Southwest Florida's most famous couple is ready to bear offspring.

The eagles Harriett and M15 got started a little earlier than expected this year from their home in a nest on the Pritchett Farm off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.

And people who love to watch the happenings of the eagles will get more opportunities than never before to experience the birds daily lives with more cameras and new innovations.

Harriett laid her first egg on Nov. 16 at 2:37 p.m. As of Nov. 19, Harriett had not laid her second one, but with eggs usually being laid three days apart as Harriett has over the years, that second egg was imminent.

This is the earliest known time that Harriett had laid her eggs. Harriett had almost always laid her eggs around Thanksgiving when she was with Ozzie, with the eggs hatching in time for Christmas and New Year.

With this early bunch, both eggs should hatch in time for Christmas. Eggs take about 35 days to hatch.

"She has been laying eggs earlier with her new mate. We were expecting them to be around this time," Ginni Pritchett-McFadden, co-founder of the Pritchett Eagle Cam, said.

Eagle lovers will get to enjoy every moment once again on the Pritchett Eagle Cam, which for the seventh season will show the triumphs and tragedies of the family.

When it started in 2012, it was Ozzie and Harriett in the nest. When Ozzie died in 2015, M15 came along and became Harriett's mate.

Tens of millions of viewers have seen eggs laid and usually hatch, eaglets grow and sometimes die in the nest, fledge and, in one instance, get knocked off the nest by an owl.

This season, the Eagle Cam will use four cameras that film the birds 24/7 and stream live video to the website.

Camera No. 1 is positioned six feet above the nesting tree and is equipped with night vision or infrared light, which emits no actual light. Nor does it make any noise. The birds do not see or hear anything coming from the camera.

Camera No. 2 is located about 60 feet from the nest and has the ability to capture images of the nest action outside the view of camera No. 1.

Cam No. 3 is installed close to the north of the pond to capture activity happening around the pasture and in the pond area.

The newest camera, Cam 360, is located in the nest tree and the first-ever live camera to capture a 360-degree look into a their daily activity. It allows a viewer to click and drag to any area for a fully immersive experience. The camera was tried out last year and is ready for this season

"Using your mobile phone or desktop computer you can move around the screen and control the view," Pritchett-McFadden said. "We're the first-ever nature cam to have that feature and we're very proud of that."

Pritchett-McFadden said she expects many classrooms to again join in for classes and lessons on the lives of eagles.

They have even written their first children's book about Harriett.

"It's a board book that kids can read while watching the camera. Its content taken from live pictures and a great way for kids to connect," Pritchett-McFadden said.



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