Southwest Florida eagle family becomes famous on live Internet TV

Ozzie the bald eagle can be seen 24/7 sitting in the large nest, which is 60 feet above the ground in a tree in Fort Myers. One of the eaglets hatched this week and a second is close to hatching.

Ozzie the bald eagle can be seen 24/7 sitting in the large nest, which is 60 feet above the ground in a tree in Fort Myers. One of the eaglets hatched this week and a second is close to hatching.

Southwest Florida is hatching some new reality TV stars.

Two bald eagles — nicknamed Ozzie and Harriet — and their two eggs are becoming viral video sensations from their nest in Lee County.

Andrew Pritchett, 24, put the camera near the nest on his father’s North Fort Myers real estate office in October. Since then the video has rallied more than 2.3 million views from 113 different countries.

“We’re one of the only eagle cameras broadcasting right now,” Pritchett said. “That really helped us become so popular. To be able to bring this to so many people around the world is something we really didn’t expect but are thrilled we are able to do.”

Pritchett said he got the idea from a photographer friend. For the last five years, photographers have been visiting the nest to watch the eaglets hatch. This year, rather than just photos, they decided to live stream the entire nesting season.

On Wednesday, one of the birds — with its majestic white head — could be seen sitting in the large nest, which is 60 feet above the ground in a tree.

A tizzy of comments in various languages by viewers from Poland to Afghanistan to Australia to Canada, Africa to Argentina have fostered the video’s growth. Pritchett said they intend to live stream their eagles for as long as they use their 160-acres to nest.

“I heard they normally build a new nest every seven or eight years,” he said. “So as long as the eagles keep coming back, we plan to have a camera broadcasting.”

The video has also resulted in fan mail. One letter, Andrew Pritchett said, came from a 10-year-old in Cape Coral, who drew a picture and asked, “are the eagles close to extinction?”

Andrew Pritchett wrote the little girl back saying eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. He also added the eagles on his property are about 40 yards from the road but don’t mind the traffic or the viewers.

“They’re urban eagles,” he said. “They’re 60-feet high, can see all around them, not much obstructing their view, they’ve adapted to the area.”

Since the live video went up online, more photographers have flocked to capture the moments. When normally 10 to 30 photographers would be seen throughout an entire day at any given time, Pritchett said, they are now at least 50 or 60 just in the mid-morning hours.

One of the eaglets recently hatched and the second is close to hatching. Viewers will soon see the birds learn to fly, forage and leave the nest.

The link to the live eagle cam is www.ustream.tv/SouthwestFloridaEagleCam.

Staff writer Sabina Bhasin contributed to this report.

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