Florida Bald Eagles Rebuild Nest Once Again in Wake of Hurricane Ian

by Taylor Cunningham
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A pair of bald eagles in Florida named Harriet and M15 have nearly rebuilt their nest after it was destroyed by hurricane Ian.

The birds have reportedly lived through several hurricanes during their lives in North Fort Myers. So they were prepared for the inevitable. The day before the storm hit land on Sept. 28, they evacuated their home, just like so many other residents.

The Category 4 winds completely destroyed their nest, which was built atop a pine tree overlooking a horse field. According to the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam co-founder Ginnie Pritchett, live cameras were set up around the nest in 2012 so bird watchers could peek in on the pair. After the storm, those cameras proved that “not a single stick was left.” 

But as soon as the weather passed, the eagles got right to work repairing the damage. And they’ve almost completely restored their nest.

In an Instagram post, McSpadden highlighted Harriet and M15’s progress with a series of photos. The post has earned over 2,000 likes and several heartfelt comments.

“It’s just given many people hope and strength to see that while humans continue to build and strengthen, the eagles are doing the same,” she told The Washington Post. “If they are taking the next steps, then we can, too.”

The Bald Eagle Couple Has Rebuilt After Several Storms

McSpadden also shared that the eagles have been living in the same tree since 2006. And every time a major storm passed through, they quickly returned to do exactly what they’re doing now.

The first time the cams caught the couple rebuilding their nest was in March 2016. At that time, their original nest began to fall apart due to regular wear and tear. She had just paired up with M15 at the time, and he helped with the renovation.

When Hurricane Irma blew through the following year, the winds significantly damaged the fresh nest. So the birds once again picked up the pieces. And over the course of their relationship, several other less notable storms have caused issues along the way.

Harriet typically lays eggs around Thanksgiving. But this year, she may lay her eggs a little later because they have to build from nothing, said Breanna Frankel, rehabilitation manager and admissions specialist with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

“They have evolved with our environment,” Frankel said. “And they have evolved to survive. Regardless, they will be resilient to whatever happens.”