VALLEY PARK, Mo. – A 31-year-old bald eagle named Murphy at the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park is going viral for his paternal instincts. 

Murphy began incubating a rock a few weeks ago, which is not uncommon according to the sanctuary’s executive director, Roger Holloway. 

“It’s not out of the complete ordinary for an eagle if they don’t have an egg and they’re going through nesting behavior to try and incubate something,” Holloway said. 

He said the spring is when eagles usually breed, showing natural reproductive behavior. Just a week or so later, the rock Murphy was protecting was replaced with a real eaglet. 

“This spring, it coincided with us having a lone chick,” Holloway said.

A couple of weeks ago, an eaglet was blown out of its nest in Cape Girardeau. Its sibling did not survive, but the eaglet, now known as ‘Eaglet 23-126’ was moved to the sanctuary. Murphy’s been watching over the eaglet with minimal human interaction. He’ll help raise the eaglet before it’s strong enough to be released. 

“Murphy is doing what we want him to do,” said Thomas Guillebeau, a wildlife technician. “He’s showing him what it takes to be an adult eagle.”

It’s the first time the sanctuary has ever had one of its bald eagles adopt an eaglet, so Holloway and his team will be watching closely.