NE20

I’m an online eagle watcher. I have followed Harriet and M15 in North Fort Myers for three years now as they lay their eggs and raise their young on private property whose owners installed nest cameras for live streaming beginning in the 2012-2013 season. Just a few days ago, I learned about Romeo and Juliet in northeast Florida whose daily nest lives are monitored and streamed live by the American Eagle Foundation (AEF). The mother Juliet was last seen December 17th, just a few days before the first egg was due to hatch. That left the father Romeo scrambling to defend the nest from several female eagle invaders while trying to incubate the eggs and feed himself, which required him to leave the nest and eggs unattended. It was feared that the eggs were no longer viable as the first hatch date came and went. But everyone was surprised when the baby in the second egg (called NE20 by AEF) hatched today, Christmas Day. It was, to me, a difficult birth because the eaglet couldn’t seem to get its head out of the cup of the egg. I watched for more than an hour until the baby exhausted itself, still stuck in the cracked open egg. I stopped watching and went and did other stuff for about 30 minutes. When I came back to the live stream, there was a nest activity update from one of the AEF moderators. The baby had been killed by one of the female eagles hanging around the nest; this female then took the newborn body with her as she flew away. What made this tragedy so incredibly sad for me is that this little eaglet fought to be born, all alone, against all odds. No parent in the nest because Romeo was away, presumably finding something to eat because the female eagle kept stealing all the fish he brought to the nest. No mother because she had been missing for eight days. I don’t know why NE20’s life and death has affected me so deeply; it’s like a hard-swung mallet to the solar plexus. I just want to scream, but instead I wrote a poem to honor this tiny, brief life.

Little one born

alone

in a nest in the sky

A great struggle

to be free

We watched you

We prayed for you

but it was not to be

You were snatched from

those of us

who watched your life

and death

on Christmas Day

You are etched

in our hearts forever

NE20

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