Hanging on fence, outside the bald eagle enclosure at Missouri’s World Bird Sanctuary, there’s a sign that’s worth a double-take. It reads:
“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 very carefully incubating a rock! We wish him the best of luck!”
The sign — and the wannabe father — have taken the internet by storm.
“Murphy does not need a real egg to feel accomplished,” the sanctuary wrote in a recent post on its Facebook page. The nonprofit added that Murphy has repeatedly chosen not to pair up with any other eagles or try to produce eggs of his own. Instead, he has chosen his rock. And he is very protective of it, reports Fox Weather.
Apparently, Murphy often rearranges the nest to make it more comfortable for the rock, and warns other eagles not to come too close. Single parenting is no easy task, but this guy is as dedicated as they come. Never mind the fact that the rock he’s chosen is square and sharp and doesn’t appear very comfortable to sit on.
The sanctuary did add that they “have yet to see a rock hatch.” Of course, they don’t plan to tell Murphy that.
While it’s possible that Murphy has just really bonded with this particular stone, it’s more likely that he’s dealing with a wave of spring hormones. Both male and female bald eagles play an equal part in the rearing of their young, and both experience a strong urge to parent whether or not they actually lay eggs.
Typically, bald eagles mate for life. The fact that Murphy has not chosen a mate during his years at the sanctuary likely indicates that he doesn’t plan to do so.
Murphy was brought to the World Bird Sanctuary when he was discovered to have a wing injury. A nonprofit rehabilitation center located on more than 300 acres of forest near Valley Park, Missouri, the sanctuary cares for a number of birds of prey with all manner of injuries and illnesses. Those that can be rehabilitated completely are returned to the wild. (You can learn more or consider sponsoring a bird at worldbirdsanctuary.org.) Those with permanent disabilities remain at the sanctuary.
In Murphy’s case, his injuries left him unable to fly. So, he will remain under the sanctuary’s care for the foreseeable future. May he live for many years—and raise many more young, healthy rocks along the way.