After attempting to incubate rock for several weeks, Bald Eagle has finally become foster dad

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Murphy and Eaglet – World Bird Sanctuary on Facebook

National headlines featured the heartwarming story of a diligent “dad” eagle who adopted an eaglet and abandoned the rock he had been tending to.

Meet Murphy, a magnificent male bald eagle who has taken up permanent residence at a sanctuary in Missouri due to a wing injury.

Keepers at the sanctuary recently observed Murphy meticulously crafting a modest nest and showering devoted attention on a solitary “egg” nestled within.

On Facebook, the World Bird Sanctuary expressed their best wishes for Murphy’s future but chose not to disclose the truth to him. “We haven’t witnessed a rock hatching,” they stated.

The unusual story quickly spread across the internet, drawing national media attention and prompting the sanctuary to post a follow-up message to provide a thorough explanation of the situation.

They clarified that Murphy is not lonely (he shares his home with four other eagles) or mentally unstable. Rather, his nesting hormones will eventually subside, and he will grow weary of the rock, moving on to other activities.

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Murphy’s Rock – World Bird Sanctuary on Facebook

In response to concerns that Murphy’s behavior might cause sadness, the sanctuary explained that his actions are simply a hormonal response to spring. “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” they wrote.

Murphy later received some news that piqued his interest. On April 1st, the sanctuary welcomed its first bald eagle chick in over eight years. The young bird, identified as Bald Eagle 23-126, suffered a wing injury when the tree it was hatched in fell during a storm.

Within a day, Murphy redirected his paternal instincts from the rock to Eaglet 23-126.

The sanctuary staff was delighted by Murphy’s swift adaptation. They observed that despite having a pile of food nearby, the eaglet’s belly was full. At the same time, Murphy’s supply of fish, delivered via a tube to his nest, had disappeared. Therefore, it was apparent that Murphy had been providing nourishment to the eaglet.

Birds of prey, such as falcons, hawks, and eagles, exhibit powerful parental instincts and are known to adopt young that are not their own.

The GROWLS nest camera project documented this phenomenon, capturing on video the remarkable adoption of a red-tailed hawk chick. Initially brought to an eagle nest as potential prey, the hatchling instead became a member of the adoptive family.