Eaglet Down, But Not Out

Injured eaglet in the grass.

Injured eaglet in the grass.

Betty and Kyle approach the eaglet.

Betty and Kyle approach the eaglet.

Gathering up their prey.

Gathering up their prey.

Calm and collected.

Calm and collected.

Betty and

Betty and her friend.

As I was finishing lunch at The Cheesecake Factory Sunday afternoon my cell phone rang. It was a call that I was hoping that I would never receive again. The voice on the phone was Martha’s and I could hear the concern in it as she asked, “Hey Jim, are you busy? We have an eaglet down.”

I left some cash for the check, and left my wife to do some shopping, as I headed for the well field. We had been down this road before, coincidentally 3 days shy of exactly 2 yeas ago. I thought about July 4th, 2011 when we were first summoned to protect another injured eaglet. On that day we found Spirit, one of Jim and Cindy’s first two eaglets, lying in the grass, dragging his left wing and unable to use his limp, right foot. Spirit’s injuries proved fatal, but I was hoping that the road would lead to a better destination this time.

Twenty-three minutes after the call, I arrived at the well field to find Martha and her husband on opposite sides of a grassy field, about 120 feet apart. There amid the knee-high grass, poison ivy and purple patches of clover flowers between them, sat a beautiful, but bewildered, juvenile Bald Eagle, curiously watching the three humans around him. An observant well field worker had spotted it on the ground a few hundred feet south of  where it now sat. With the arrival of the humans it had run into the tall grass, favoring its left wing. “At least it can run.” I thought to myself.

Within a few minutes a total of 11 people had responded and were now forming a large ring around the grassy field. Our objective was to keep the injured bird from fleeing into the nearby brush and possibly entangling itself and further injuring that wing. An additional concern was the presence coyotes in the well field, including at least 5 pups in one litter alone. We were waiting for Betty Ross, Director of the Glen Helen Raptor Center, to arrive and retrieve the 102 day old youngster. As we waited we watched the eaglet, and the curious eaglet sat patiently watching us. We also watched the sky for Jim and Cindy and the other eaglet. You can never predict how an adult Bald Eagle will react in a situation like this. I am quite sure that Mom and Dad were aware of their eaglet’s predicament but the trees and the skies appeared empty except for the ever-present Turkey Vultures circling slowly overhead. We were determined that they would find no meal here today.

Shortly Betty arrived with her assistant, Kyle, parking just outside of our circle. As they donned their heavy gloves and picked up their nets and towels, the eaglet watched with focused interest. We began to slowly constrict the circle as Betty and Kyle approached the bird. When they were within a few feet, the eaglet stood, turned, and attempted to fly. It managed to get about 3 feet above the ground with an obvious tilt to the left but only covered about five feet before crashing to the ground again. Betty managed to move with it and place her net over the grounded juvenile. In a few seconds she had secured its feet, neutralizing the threat from its talons and had folded its wings to its sides. The eaglet was nipping at her gloved arms as she gathered up the youngster and covered its head with a towel. A minute later the eaglet was in the carrier in the back of her car and ready for the trip to the raptor center and, we hope, better health.

Reports are that Jim, Cindy and the other eaglet are all doing well and hanging out in the trees and the skies of the well field.

Although the eaglet looked to be in pretty good shape, the next few days will be important ones as it is examined to determine just what type of injury it has suffered, if it is able to eat and digest food and if there are any other issues such as infections or parasite activity. Hopefully it will recover fully from its ordeal and be released back into the well field later this summer. We will let you all know as soon as we hear anything. This eaglet is in very capable hands so although it may be down, it is far from out.

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Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm  Comments (24)  

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Many Prayers! The Raptor center is the best! That storm was wicked yesterday….

  2. Jim thank you so much for the update, Roger for keeping us posted for the beautiful people doing the capture and the rehabbers for taking this baby in, of course tears are running down my face and now the worry and the prayers begin!

  3. Thank you Brenda. That heavy downpour and violent wind may have been the trouble.

  4. Take courage Darlene in knowing that God is in control. Life in the wild is wild. The (not so) little one in in excellent hands.

  5. What a day glad they were able to handle the infant and hopefully everything will be ok. Thanks , Ruth

  6. What a day indeed, Ruth! I don’t want anymore like this one.

  7. God bless each of you for protecting and caring for these magnificent birds. You have all earned a star in Heaven.

  8. Thank you Jim for your excellent reporting to us that love these eagles. Thank you too to Betty and all her helpers for their dedicated service. My thoughts and prayers will be with the eaglet and all her caregivers. I know you will keep us posted. Thank you eaglejim.

    Sandy n Omaha

  9. So hope the little man is going to be alright ! Would hate to think after watching and waiting to see him survive and go off on their own that something like this would happen to him. Sure hope his injuries aren’t real serious…..be watching for updates.

  10. Sending healing thoughts from PA. Thank you for the great coverage and being there so quickly. Please tell all involved how very grateful we are for all the help, love and care they have for these great Eagles & all wildlife.

  11. praying for the eaglet

  12. Thank goodness for wonderful people like you! you have so much love and care in your hearts. sounds like you have a wonderful center for the eaglet
    to recover in. prayers that he/she will recover completely and let go back into the wild!

  13. Oh no…not again! It’s a terrible thing but the eaglet is in good hands & we’re praying that the outcome will be a full recovery. Jim, please keep us informed of his/her progress. Thanks

  14. Thank you Pat. Being able to closely experience the life of an American Bald Eagle family is a blessing that I did not expect. I remember praying for a chance to see a wild eagle when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Some prayers are answered half a century after they are whispered but God’s timing is always perfect.

  15. Thank you for your kind words Sandy. Betty and her staff do not wear red capes and tights but they are superheros in my book!

  16. You and me both Opal! I will keep you posted as soon as I hear anything.

  17. Thank you Jannice. We love doing what we do.

  18. Thank you Joy! God hears and answers our prayers. If He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground then surely He saw this eaglet’s tumble.

  19. Thank you for your kind words and prayers Pamela. Jim and Cindy now just have the one to keep tabs on while Betty and her crew tend to the other. I did not see or hear the adults yesterday but with their eyesight and their watchfulness over their domain, I believe they know that we have this eaglet. Hopefully they can all be reunited soon.

  20. We will keep you in the loop Lana. It may be a few days until there is anything to report though.

  21. Sending healing thoughts a prayers your way. Thanks to the observant worker for getting help quickly.

  22. Thank you Gigi. The workers in the well field are very protective of the eagles and their domain. They have some of our members’ personal email addresses and phone numbers. It is crucial to address a downed eaglet situation quickly as a small injury can become much worse if there are thickets and predators nearby.

  23. Yesterday I failed to thank the workers in the well field. They truly are
    heroes in this story. They got the ball rolling for this rescue. Without their keen eye this eaglet could have been in real trouble. A dedicated team worked together to help this little guy. Thank you to everyone connected with this story. I’m still praying for a happy ending. God bless you all.

    Sandy/Omaha

  24. I will make sure that they know that they have the gratitude of folks from around the country Sandy. They consider these eagles part of the well field family which is why they named Jim after a coworker they had lost. By the way, the human Cindy was one of the eleven of us forming that circle around the injured eaglet Sunday. There are stories hidden within stories in this eagle family’s followers, most of them will never be told. Thank you for your prayers and your thoughtfulness.


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