A hard-working eagle “dad” recently made national headlines after adopting an eaglet, and abandoning the rock he had been caring for.
This is the story of Murphy, a beautiful male bald eagle, who, because of a wing injury, resides permanently at a Missouri sanctuary.
Recently, keepers noticed Murphy feathering a “very simple nest” and paying extremely close and doting attention to a single “egg,” that was inside.
“We wish Murphy all the luck in the world, but we’re not telling him the reality of the situation,” the World Bird Sanctuary wrote on Facebook. “We have yet to see a rock hatch.”
The story went viral, garnered national news coverage, and prompted the sanctuary to write a follow-up post to explain the farfetched situation in detail.
For starters they quashed any notions that Murphy was lonely (he lives with 4 other eagles) or insane, explaining that nesting hormones will run their, course, he will become bored of the rock, and move on to another pastime.
“Although it might make you feel sad that Murphy has built a nest and is nurturing a rock as an egg, it’s just his hormonal response to spring,” they wrote. “Murphy is not sad, so you don’t need to be. Male bald eagles take an equal part in raising young, so this is very natural behavior for a male.”
Murphy then received news of some interest to him. On April 1st, the sanctuary received its first bald eagle nestling in more than eight years. Bald Eagle 23-126 had broken its wing when the tree it was born in was blown over in a storm.
It took just a day for Murphy to transfer all those fathering instincts from the rock to Eaglet 23-126.
Everyone at the sanctuary is thrilled for Murphy. They noticed in the days after it arrived, the eaglet had a pile of untouched food, but a full belly. Murphy meanwhile gets a fish from a tube above his nest, which was all gone—ipso facto—Murphy fed the eaglet.
Raptors like falcons, hawks, and eagles have very strong parental instincts and have been known to adopt strays.
The nest cam project GROWLS, recently captured the whole adoption process on camera when a red-tailed hawk baby was brought back to an eagle nest as food, but became a sibling instead.