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It is with great excitement that Zoo Miami, in collaboration with Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, announces that the wild pair of bald eagles, named “Rita” and “Ron,” have successfully hatched their third egg!!! As if following the script of a movie, their first egg hatched on New Year’s Day and this third egg has hatched on Three Kings Day!!!
For several months, Rita and Ron have worked together to build a new nest on an artificial platform constructed through the combined efforts of Lloyd Brown from Wildlife Rescue of Dade County and Ron Magill from the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment at the Zoo Miami Foundation. The platform was constructed to provide a more stable foundation after the pair had their original nest at that location destroyed during a storm.
In addition to the platform, the team also installed state-of-the-art cameras that allow the activity at the nest platform to be viewed online 24 hours a day. The cameras have provided fascinating intimate views into the wonderful behaviors of these majestic raptors.
Bald eagles are monogamous and mate for life, usually returning to the same nest year after year and building upon it. Over the years, some nests can get over 8 feet wide, more than 10 feet deep and weigh over a ton! They usually lay only two eggs so having this pair lay three has been a pleasant surprise. However, successfully raising three chicks is incredibly rare as the chicks themselves will often be very aggressive with one another to the extent one or more may die. Though difficult to watch, it is a natural behavior where the dominant chick tries to eliminate competition for food. This third chick has the odds stacked very high against it as it is significantly smaller and weaker than the other two chicks which have already had a good head start in life. Though we have to prepare for the worst, we are hoping for the best as these beautiful birds continue to amaze us and prove that they are survivors!
Whatever happens, we must let nature take its course and will not interfere with any natural process. However, we hope that the unique opportunity provided by the work of Wildlife Rescue of Dade County and the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment will help connect people to nature in a meaningful and memorable way.
Here is a short video showing the first moments after hatching:
Please feel free to utilize and edit the video in any way to fit your needs.