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Bald eagle Murphy who incubated a 'RockBaby' is now raising an orphaned eaglet: 'Gentle papa'

The eaglet was removed from the 'baby jail' on April 13 and has been 'bonding beautifully' with Murphy, the sanctuary said.

Bald eagle Murphy who incubated a 'RockBaby' is now raising an orphaned eaglet: 'Gentle papa'
Cover Image Image: Instagram / World Bird Sanctuary

A bald eagle who went viral for trying to incubate a rock is fulfilling his dream as a dad by caring for an orphaned eaglet at a Missouri bird sanctuary. Murphy, 31, started looking after his 'Rockbaby' at World Bird Sanctuary in March 2023. Every day the determined bird sat on the rock, nestled with leaves and branches, seemingly waiting for the impossible. According to PEOPLE, visitors at the sanctuary could not help but notice Murphy vigilantly guarding the rock that staff had to hang a sign outside the enclosure for curious eyes. "Is That Eagle Hurt?" the sign read. "If you see an eagle lying down in the back left corner under a perch, that's Murphy! Murphy is not hurt, sick, or otherwise in distress. He has built a nest on the ground and is carefully incubating a rock! We wish him the best of luck!"



 

 

However, on April 4, he and the rock were moved out of the shared eagle enclosure because Murphy was "protecting the rock too aggressively." Shortly after, by a stroke of coincidence, the sanctuary had received a bruised and battered orphaned eaglet on April 2. As reported by CBS News, his nest was blown away in a storm, so the chick needed to be introduced to an adult eagle for fostering. They realized that if the sanctuary staff continued handling the eagle's feeding, the wounded chick would imprint on a human. "It was then decided that we would give Murphy a chance at fostering the eaglet," the sanctuary wrote on Facebook.



 

 

"Murphy's dad's instincts were already in high gear, but at 31 years old, he had never raised a chick before. It's a gamble, but also the chick's best chance. BabyRock was removed, and the chick was introduced to his enclosure in the 'baby jail.'" The eaglet was removed from the "baby jail" on April 13 and has been "bonding beautifully" with Murphy, the sanctuary said. "When the baby doesn't eat right away, he takes a bit of food, and then the baby begins to eat. This is the kind of bonding we're looking for," the sanctuary wrote.



 

 

"Murphy is modeling eagle behavior perfectly, and becoming a wonderful, gentle papa." Over the weekend, a tornado landed close to the sanctuary, and the eaglet needed to be taken to a hospital for care. The chick was returned to Murphy after the nest was fortified and improved, but the nest is on the ground because Murphy cannot fly. "Murphy is just learning how to be a dad, so he isn't perfect yet," World Bird Sanctuary CEO Dawn Griffard said in a Facebook post. "He has lots to learn!"



 

 

 

In another update on April 13, the sanctuary said it had dropped two types of foods into the enclosure: chopped food that the chick and a large fish that only Murphy could handle. The rescue said Murphy shredded up the fish and helped feed it to the baby for the first time, taking quickly to his fatherhood duties. "You can see the imprinting happening, which is exactly what we wanted," Griffard told the New York Times. The sanctuary commented on the bond between the birds saying, "It's just too much for the heart to handle."

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