ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Earlier this week, we told you about a male bald eagle at the World Bird Sanctuary who was introduced to an eaglet to act as a foster.
Staffers at the sanctuary initially introduced Eaglet 23-126 to Murphy from the safety of a “baby cage,” to see if the adult eagle would react favorably.
On Tuesday, Murphy and the eaglet met face-to-face and the pair appear to have hit it off. Dawn Griffard, CEO of the sanctuary, said it took Murphy about an hour before inspecting the baby.
The following morning, the eaglet got out of its nest and wandered close to Murphy and made what’s called “food begging” noises. Staffers had dropped food into the nest via a blind tube, but Eaglet 23-126 could not climb back into the nest to get its breakfast. Murphy picked the food from the nest and fed the eaglet himself.
Griffard said the staff is delighted that Murphy fed the baby, but they’ve rearranged the tube, so it’s easier for the eaglet to reach its food.
The sanctuary has fostered baby birds with females in the past, but Griffard said Murphy presented a unique opportunity. Just last month, visitors and staff noticed Murphy had placed an egg-sized rock in a nest on the ground, and attempted to hatch the inanimate object. He’d sit on the rock and routinely nudge and turn it, like any mating eagle would.
After being introduced to the eaglet in a private enclosure, Murphy abandoned the rock and turned his attention to the fledgling.
Griffard said male eagles do share responsibility for nesting with eggs and rearing eaglets, but Murphy, who is 31, had never shown any signs of this behavior before. Bald eagles typically live to 20 to 25 years in the wild, but reach maturity at age 5.