A permanently injured bald eagle who can’t fly is living out the rest of his days at a bird sanctuary in Missouri.
Last month, one of his caretakers at World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) noticed something odd. Keeper Kerstin saw Murphy the eagle protecting a large depression in the ground.
The spot was sparsely but carefully decorated with leaves and branches, and featured a simple rock right in the center.
Later that day, Keeper Kerstin saw Murphy sitting on the rock as if it were an egg, and he continued to do so day after day. Male bald eagles take an equal part in raising young, so this is very natural behavior for a male.
“Every so often he rearranges the sticks in his nest, and cackles at any other eagles that come too close. We wish Murphy all the luck in the world, but we’re not telling him the reality of the situation,” the nonprofit wrote on Facebook. “We have yet to see a rock hatch!”
Many viewers have assumed that Murphy is lonely and needs a mate, but the sanctuary keepers insist he is choosing to do this on his own. “Murphy is not lonely! He is housed with 4 other bald eagles – 2 males and 2 females,” WBS said.
“He is not welcoming help with his nest, nor is he seeking it! He has not chosen a mate, so he very clearly wants to do this on his own. He does not want anything (real eggs) but his rock. Eventually he will get bored and abandon it, but we love watching him care for it now. No need to feel bad for him! He is perfectly content, and very spoiled!”
Last week, an eagle nest containing two chicks near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri was blown down by very high winds. One chick perished in the fall, but the other was found and rescued by a faithful nest watcher who brought the chick to World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife Hospital. The staff decided to give Murphy a chance at fostering a real baby.
However, at 31 years old, Murphy had never raised a chick before. It was definitely a gamble, but also the chick’s best chance at survival. “BabyRock” was removed, and the chick was introduced to his enclosure.
It took Murphy about an hour to approach the eaglet to examine it. Murphy was definitely curious. But he didn’t feed him. The next day, the eaglet left the nest to go be closer to Murphy — and this is when the magic happened.
“IT’S HAPPENING!!!!” WBS said in an update. “MURPHY FED THE BABY!!!!” WBS posted a photo of Murphy with the baby and said they will be “as hands off as possible” to allow maximum bonding between Murphy and the baby.
If you would like to help feed Murphy and his baby, consider donating to the World Bird Sanctuary.