I am afraid that I have some terrible news to share with all of you. (If you follow this blog with your children you may want to read through this posting first to decide if it is appropriate for your child.)
Jim and Cindy lost one of their three eaglets today.
As you know, just two days ago one of our eaglets was seen on the ground, hopping around for hours. It showed no signs of injury other than holding its right wing slightly different from its left wing. When the good folks from The Glen Helen Raptor Center approached it to capture it, it flew up into a tree. (I covered this event in more detail in my last posting.) Well yesterday the observant and protective staff of the well field noticed another grounded eaglet. It may have been the same bird or one of that bird’s two siblings, we just don’t know. I was on the road to Georgia and eventually Florida for vacation with my family when I received the call about this second eaglet so I was unable to observe the downed bird personally, but Roger captured the disturbing image below that clearly shows that the youngster had somehow severely damaged its right wing.
I just cannot get over how bewildered, desperate and just plain out-of-place this eaglet looks. Betty and her assistants from the raptor center responded and captured the injured bird. The eaglet had suffered traumatic injuries to its right wing. Parasites had found the wound and had done additional damage. The injuries were so severe that the eaglet died before it could be examined by the vet. What a loss.
I often site statistics (maybe too often) but they are so very important in understanding the plight of the Bald Eagle. Juvenile Bald Eagles usually do not fare well. As many as 70% to 80 % never see their first birthday. As far as we know, of Jim and Cindy’s 10 fledged eaglets, only 2 have been lost. I suspect that number may be higher but we will never know for sure. Even with the careful monitoring and swift intervention by caring people when a crisis does occur, life in the wild is wild.
Jim and Cindy were aware of the eaglet’s situation and were seen bringing it food but its fate was sealed when whatever happened happened. Even though I am far from home I know that both parents, especially Cindy, will be seen flying through the area searching for the missing eaglet for the next several days before turning their full attention back to their remaining pair of juveniles. That breaks my heart. But what a wonderful and touching testimony of their devotion to their offspring.
Sometimes you beat the odds but, eventually, the odds beat back. Reality bites, and sometimes it bites hard enough to bring tears to your eyes.