Mar 23, 2023 - News

The love story behind a bald eagle hatching in Miami-Dade County

A baby eagle chick opens its mouth wide as it sits next to an egg.

Welcome to the world, R4! Photo: Courtesy of Wildlife Rescue of Dade.

Love is in the air for a pair of local bald eagles.

What's happening: Ron, a Miami-area bald eagle, mated with a new lover on Christmas Day, and their two baby eaglets hatched last week.

Background: A pair of eagles had been living 95 feet up in an Australian Pine in northwest Miami-Dade since at least 2015 but have struggled to reproduce.

  • The birds were named Ron and Rita, after Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill and his wife, Rita.
  • A storm knocked down their nest in March 2021. Wildlife experts from Zoo Miami and Wildlife Rescue of Dade County saved one eagle chick and released it into the wild, but another died.
  • The experts built a platform out of a 5-foot wooden papasan chair, which the parent eagles began to use as a nest. A video camera was set up for monitoring.
  • Last year, Rita had to undergo surgery after a wing injury, and she was taken to live at a rehab facility.

The latest: A new female showed up December 20. Her name is Rose.

  • She laid two eggs in February and they hatched in March.
  • The babies, known as R4 and R5, are expected to stay in the nest until June.

What they're saying: Lloyd Brown, of Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, told Axios that bald eagles are making quite a comeback. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found their population climbed to an estimated 316,700 in 2020 — quadruple the number in 2009.

  • "Challenges are still very severe," Brown said. "Up north, almost every eagle tested suffers from lead poisoning" from hunters shooting the animals' prey with shotgun pellets.
  • "The biggest challenge is actually rat poison," he said, adding that fishing line is another hazard.

What we're watching: The location of the nest is being kept private so no one disturbs the eagles, but a round-the-clock livestream airs on YouTube, where viewers can see Ron bring back fish and rodents to feed his young.

More on challenges eagles face.


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