The Eagle Who Thought a Rock Was An Egg Finally Gets To Be a Dad

In early March, a bald eagle named Murphy — a resident of the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Missouri — was ready to become a father. He crafted his nest carefully in the bottom of his enclosure, his home for most of his 31 years of life since an injury left him unable to fly. As time went on, he became more and more protective of his offspring, screeching and charging at anyone who tried to come near. Unfortunately, his careful brooding and nurturing was being spent on a lifeless rock. Murphy was experiencing a spring hormonal surge, compelling him to brood, despite not having an egg of his own. That often leads birds to care for egg-like objects. As time went on, Murphy became more and more dedicated to his rock. In fact, he became so aggressive in protecting his nest that he had to be moved to a separate enclosure. Keepers at the sanctuary assumed Murphy’s fatherhood fantasy would pass with the season. Then news came from St. Genevieve, Missouri — a young eaglet had fallen from its nest during a storm and needed somewhere to stay. The World Bird Sanctuary realized that this could be Murphy’s big chance. The staff carefully removed the “rock baby” and put the eaglet — protected by a cage — into the enclosure with Murphy. Soon, Murphy began to respond to the eaglet’s peeps. A week after their introduction, the cage was removed so the two could interact more closely. Fortunately, Murphy accepted the eaglet and has turned out to be a pretty amazing daddy. The sanctuary hopes to release the eaglet back into the wild this summer.