Bald Eagle Named Murphy Goes Viral for Adopting a Rock at a Missouri Bird Sanctuary. Now, He's the Foster Parent of an Orphaned Eaglet.

Bald Eagle Named Murphy Goes Viral for Adopting a Rock at a Missouri Bird Sanctuary. Now, He’s the Foster Parent of an Orphaned Eaglet.

Murphy, the bald eagle, went from incubating a rock (left) to bonding with an orphaned eaglet.

A bald eagle that went viral for adopting a rock at a Missouri sanctuary recently took a new bird baby under its wing.

“If you see an eagle laying in the back left corner under a perch, that’s Murphy! Murphy is not injured, sick, or distressed,” the sign read. “He has built a nest on the ground and is carefully incubating a rock! We wish him the best of luck!”

The tweet amassed over 4.5 million views and nearly 140,000 likes. On March 26, the sanctuary posted an update on Facebook about Murphy and the rock, which they later dubbed “RockBaby.”

“While it might make you feel sad that Murphy has built a nest and is nurturing a rock as an egg, it is simply his hormonal response to spring. Murphy is not sad, so there is no need for you to be,” the post read.

In a later update on April 4, the group said Murphy had become so protective of RockBaby that he took over a third of the 90,000-square-foot enclosure he shared with four other eagles.

Due to Murphy’s aggression, he and the rock were moved to their own non-public accessible space.

Still, good news was on the way for Murphy. On April 2, the sanctuary shared photos of an injured bald eagle chick they received after a storm knocked down its nest. The organization said the baby would be placed with an adult eagle because it was at high risk of imprinting on a human.

Although Murphy wasn’t initially a candidate for the job, the sanctuary wrote on April 12 that he turned out to be the best option for the chick.

“So it was decided that we would give Murphy the opportunity to raise the eaglet. Murphy’s parental instincts were already kicking in, but at 31 years old, he had never raised a chick before,” the sanctuary wrote. “It’s definitely a gamble, but also the best chance for the chick.”

The baby was introduced to Murphy in a small wooden and wire box jokingly referred to by the group as “Baby Jail.” Once the box was placed in Murphy’s enclosure, staff monitored their interactions as Murphy learned to accept the chick. The chick was then removed from the box and allowed to interact with Murphy, who began feeding and protecting it.

“It’s too much for the heart to handle. The fact that the chick’s face is blurry is incredibly endearing. That mouth is very busy looking,” the group captioned a photo of Murphy and the chick on Facebook. “He wants more and more food! Luckily Murphy has all of us to supply it!”

After a round of severe weather and tornadoes in Missouri on April 16, the sanctuary said they found the chick suffering from hypothermia and shock. It was treated at the sanctuary hospital and returned to Murphy and a newly “fortified and improved” nest to continue their bond.

The World Bird Sanctuary did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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