The eaglet known as E4, the remaining offspring of Ozzie and Harriet, is now on "fledge watch" and is expected to take wing in the next week or two.
"At 7:25AM this morning, E4 hopped to a nearby branch and 'branched' for the first time," the eagle cam on the Dick Pritchett Real Estate web site stated on Sunday. "A milestone toward fledging the nest!"
The Eagle Cam remains as busy as ever and will soon have its 25 millionth visitor.
E4 is now almost 12 weeks old and can be seen warming up its wings and allowing the wind to lift him up higher while his parents constantly remain on the hunt for food for their growing boy.
Janice Buczkowski, a volunteer of the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, said she has been watching the progress of the bird daily, and that the branch process is one of the final processes before E4 takes his first flight.
"The birds start to go to branches on the tree near the nest. They don't fly, they more like jump. They're a little too scared to fly," Buczkowski said. "Before that, they're 'wingercizing,' flapping his wings to exercise them and get airborne, but just in the nest."
At some point, the bird will get on the rails of the nest, will flap its wings, jump up and get onto the branch. In a matter of one or two weeks, they are ready to fledge.
"You can see they are scared, and all of a sudden they jump for their life," Buczkowski said. "What's really fun is that when they learn to fly, they haven't learned to land."
The bird will often miss the branch or roll into the nest, and Buczkowski said they will often get fledglings that get injured. That is less common than when younger eaglets fall from the nest, where they could become prey themselves.
"The eaglets do well with the fledge, generally," Buczkowski said. "And they won't generally leave the nest for another one or two months."
From there the eaglet will go to the edge of the lake and learn to bathe and eventually catch fish, Buczkowski said, adding that last year, Ozzie and Harriet taught two fledges how to do that.
With the fledge watch now on, this will give the second eagle cam, set up from a farther distance, much more work.
The second camera has just a million hits, or about 300 unique viewers at any one time. But traffic is expected to pick up, said Andrew Pritchett, as fledging draws near.
"It's going to have an added value. Once it starts hanging around the pasture and gets ready to fly, you'll be able to see it, and it's pretty exciting," Pritchett said. "We're going to push that camera more because people aren't as aware of it."
Pritchett said that as fledging approaches, it has brought extra people to the surrounding property off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.
"We're seeing about 15 or 20 in the morning and about four or five cars in the parking lot in the afternoon," Pritchett said. "As the bird branches and fledges the foot traffic will increase."
View the eagles live at dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html