After a night of uncertainty, Hoover the baby bald eagle appears to have been accepted into his new family.
Audubon Society members placed the 17-day-old orphan eaglet with adoptive parents and two siblings in a Dunedin nest on Monday. As daylight waned, though, the adoptive parents had yet to return to the nest.
But daylight Tuesday revealed the operation seemed a success.
One of the parents was perched inside the nest, warming the chicks inside.
While it would take an ascent up a tree in the future to definitively see inside the nest, evidence points to a happy family.
Pinellas County Audubon coordinator Barb Walker said an eagle watcher reported Tuesday morning that a slightly larger eaglet poked its head out — and the eaglet named Hoover, a few days older than his new siblings, is a bit larger than the others.
"The eagles seemed to have brought in an extra meal this morning," Walker said.
She noted that the normal time the eagles spent feeding their young doubled as well.
"Instead of 10 minutes, it took 20 minutes," Walker said. "He seems to be doing just fine."
And Arno Beken, the Dunedin resident who owns the house below the nest, said the eagles are back to their normal routine.
While it is uncommon for three young eagles to all survive in one nest, Walker said, the fact that two recently caught fish were present in the nest when tree climber Jim Lott peeked inside Monday indicates that the eagles are finding enough food.
Lynda White, Florida Audubon Society Eaglewatch coordinator, said, luckily, eagles have a poor sense of smell — and generally feed anything that seems to be eagle-like begging for food in their nests.
And eagles can't count.
"That's why this works," White said Monday.
Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.