Murphy, the bald eagle, has the opportunity to finally be a father, thanks to a stroke of good luck. This turn of events is fulfilling Murphy’s dreams and brings me joy.
I’m in a somewhat tricky situation. I happened to find a rock that resembled an egg, and I began to ‘care’ for it as a jest. Little did I know it would make me popular among the females, help my mum stop nagging about ‘settling down’, and humans found it endearing and rewarded me with more food and toys. So, I continued with my act. Surprisingly, my rock has now hatched, and I find myself with a chirping chick demanding food all the time. I can’t fathom how this occurred, as I was so sure it was just a rock. And now, he likely gloats to everyone in the zoo, “See, I told you it was an egg. You all thought I was mad, but look, it hatched! Ha!”
Earlier in March, Murphy, who lives at the “World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Missouri,” was all geared up to become a father. His nest, painstakingly crafted at the base of his enclosure, has been his dwelling for most of his 31 years, as an injury has left him flightless. With time, he became fiercely protective of his nest, vehemently defending it from anyone trying to approach.
Dawn Griffard, CEO of the World Bird Sanctuary, shared with Praveena Somasundaram of the Washington Post that they’ve never seen a bird at the sanctuary guard a nest so ferociously. She further revealed that the only hitch was that Murphy’s nurturing instincts were directed towards a lifeless rock. This was due to his hormonal changes in spring that prompted him to nest despite not having an egg. This led him to care for an object that resembled an egg.
Murphy’s dedication to his rock intensified, turning him so protective that he had to be shifted to a separate enclosure. The sanctuary staff thought that Murphy’s parenting fantasy would pass with the season, and he’d move on from his rock.
Then, they received news from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri: A young eaglet had fallen from its nest during a storm and needed shelter. The World Bird Sanctuary recognized this as Murphy’s golden opportunity.
A few days after the eaglet’s arrival, the caretakers started a bonding process between the two birds to assess if Murphy could safely act as a foster parent. They replaced the “rock baby” with the eaglet in the enclosure with Murphy, but kept the eaglet protected inside a cage.
Griffard expressed that Murphy, who was already showing signs of raising a chick and taking good care of his rock, seemed to be the best choice. Murphy soon began responding to the eaglet’s calls. A week after their meeting, the cage was removed to encourage more direct interaction. Rather than eating from their separate dishes, Murphy started tearing up his portion of fish to feed the baby.
Griffard acknowledged that it was clear that the bonding was happening as they hoped. The sanctuary intends to reintroduce the eaglet to its natural habitat in the coming summer, trusting that Murphy will recognize the appropriate moment for this transition. Until then, Murphy will have the opportunity to experience the joys of parenthood.
Griffard shared that everyone kept telling Murphy that his rock wouldn’t hatch, but in his mind, it hatched, and he became a parent. The eaglet, now nearly fully grown, is soon ready to leave the nest, and Murphy, an excellent father, would have his “rock baby” ready to embark on its journey.
As Father’s Day approaches, it’s a win for Murphy.