ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A male bald eagle at the World Bird Sanctuary that went viral for trying to “hatch” a rock has been introduced to an eaglet at the facility, with hopes his parental instincts will transfer to the fledgling.
Dawn Griffard, CEO of the sanctuary, said last month, visitors and staff noticed one of its bald eagles, Murphy, acting peculiar.
Murphy, who is kept in an un-roofed enclosure with other males that cannot fly, had made a nest on the ground. Murphy had taken an egg-sized rock and placed it in his nest. He’d sit on it and routinely nudge the rock and turn it, like any mating eagle would.
Part of those nesting instincts included chasing off other eagles who got too close, so staffers moved Murphy and his rock inside.
Last week, the World Bird Sanctuary received one of two eaglets that had been blown out of their nest in Ste. Genevieve. Unfortunately, one of the eaglets did not survive the fall. Staffers have gone to great lengths to make sure the eaglet does not imprint on humans.
Griffard said the sanctuary has fostered baby birds with females in the past, but Murphy presented a unique opportunity.
Staffers put the eaglet in what they affectionately call a “baby cage,” along with a heat source, and placed the cage in the private enclosure with Murphy.
So far, Murphy seems to have abandoned his rock and taken an interest in the fledging in the cage. The sanctuary will introduce Murphy to the eaglet, sans cage, on Wednesday.
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.