Friday, October 2, 2015

Ozzie And Harriet: A Closure Part I

While following the lives of a famous pair of Bald Eagles named Ozzie and Harriet through a seasonal Southwest Florida Eagle Cam (SWFEC) and local news stories, I finally decided to attempt to see these majestic birds in person.

Day 1: 22 September 2015


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 1) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

At a not too distant time, across the Caloosahatchee River to the west in Cape Coral, there were a pair of Bald Eagles named George and Gracie. These eagles were thought to be a mating pair going back as early as 1990. George died of severe kidney failure while in the care of the Sanibel Island Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in June 2006. Gracie continued on with a new mate that was appropriately named George II.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 2) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 3) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 4) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

I arrived at the SWFEC site a couple of mornings after Ozzie's last sighting at his nest in North Fort Myers. The eagle's nest is on the property of Dick Pritchett. There was a good crowd on hand, all with eyes glued on the nest which sits in a wide open field offering great views of the eagles and other bird species. It was good to see local wildlife photographer Donna McMurrer on hand.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 5) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 6) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Blue Jay above (image 7) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

Donna had earlier been at the right place at the right time to capture an image of a pair of Florida Panthers which is the most remarkable I have seen. Donna can be found equally as excited observing panthers or Bald Eagles at the Pritchett site at the start of the 2016 eagle nesting season. I have yet to see any panthers myself with even much more common bobcat and coyote rarely seen.


The Blue Jay above (image 8) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Mottled Duck above (image 9) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The European Starling above (image 10) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

Some devoting years to observing Ozzie and Harriet that I've had the good fortune to meet during my first few days visiting the SWFEC nest include Dee Kelly, Jeffery Jansen, and David Mintz. There is a comradery among them as they share great stories during observation down times.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 11) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Red-bellied Woodpecker above (image 12) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Red-bellied Woodpecker above (image 13) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

The current Bayshore Road SWFEC nest was built by Ozzie and Harriet in 2006. These eagles are believed to have occupied another nest a short distance to the south that was first identified in 1990. It is thought that Ozzie and Harriet may have taken over the Donald Road nest from another pair of eagles in the 1997-1998 nesting season. The nest was inactive that year. Jeff is one of the fortunate ones to be following the eagles in this immediate area so far back in time.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 14) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 15) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 16) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

The bond between Ozzie and Harriet was very strong. However, toward the latter part of the 2015 nesting season tragedy struck. In mid March 2015 Ozzie was brought to CROW with a broken left clavicle and broken left coracoid bone after being found in the vicinity of railroad tracks in North Fort Myers. He was thought to be injured through impact with a car or train while hunting for prey.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 17) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 18) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 19) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

The initial report that Ozzie's recuperation would take weeks turned into months. During Ozzie's recovery at CROW, Harriet accepted another eagle which was named M15 (male 2015). M15 was also named FV (frequent visitor), and more amusingly named Pretty Boy. After the 2014-2015 breeding season was over, Ozzie was released on the Pritchett property near the nest site on 17 June 2015.


The Bald Eagle (Harriet) above (image 20) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

Day 2: 23 September 2015


The Loggerhead Shrike above (image 21) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Cooper's Hawk above (image 22) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

On September 19th and 20th Ozzie was observed in the immediate vicinity of the SWFEC nest site, returning after a six month absence. Although it was reported that Ozzie was with Harriet in the nest tree on the morning of 20 September, he would apparently be driven from the area by both Harriet and Pretty Boy. Ozzie would not return to the nest again.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 23) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove with European Starling above (image 24) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove with European Starling above (image 25) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

On 27 September Ozzie was found injured by Heather Halle, and then brought to CROW by Dee Kelly and CROW volunteer Joni O'Neil Henderson. CROW reported that Ozzie had lacerations from barbed wire, a broken toe in each foot, and other severe wounds consistent with a fight with another eagle. Ozzie's worst affliction was a bacterial blood infection possibly from one of the cuts. Ozzie additionally re-injured a talon.


The horse above (image 26) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 27) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove with Red-bellied Woodpecker above (image 28) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

On 22 September I was fortunate to see Pretty Boy that had bonded with Harriet. This was the first and last time I would see the eagle. Pretty Boy was observed by others on the 23rd, but has not been seen since as of the time of this article's publication. The images presented in this blog post all represent my observations at the SWFEC site.

Day 3: 24 September 2015


The Great Blue Heron above (image 29) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Cattle Egret above (image 30) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 31) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

In addition to my great interest in observing the Bald Eagles and their behavior, I am attempting to document all the other species of bird that live at or pass through the nest area. With Ozzie's earlier return to his nest on 20 September, the scene has been significantly disrupted offering the unexpected each day. Most notably has been the disappearance of Pretty Boy.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 32) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (unknown) above (image 33) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.


The Bald Eagle (unknown) above (image 34) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

Ozzie passed away at CROW on 29 September 2015 due to complications from his injuries. It has been reported that Ozzie's remains will be used in an American Indian religious ceremony. There will be observations and reports from the nest site at this blog in the future documenting Harriet and her environment which she has great control over.


The Eurasian Collared-Dove above (image 35) was photographed at the Pritchett Eagle Cam Site in September 2015.

Please also see Ozzie And Harriet: A Closure Pt. II
Please also see Ozzie And Harriet: A Closure Pt. III

8 comments:

  1. So sad. Your photos are certainly uplifting, however.

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    1. Ozzie was close to reaching his life expectancy, Karen. He certainly lived a full life.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Debra. It was nice to see you, and add two new species of bird at the nest site with you today.

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  3. WOW, lovely captures. I adore the photo's of the Bald Eagle and the Blue Jay ( never seen in my live)
    Have a nice weekend Bob,
    greetings,
    Maria

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Maria. It's good to see the Blue Jay in the eagle's absence.

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  4. A touching story, Bob, and so beautifully told!

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    Replies
    1. As of yesterday, Hemant, there appeared to be stability at the nest site (a welcome development). I'm on my way momentarily to see what unfolds today.

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