Monday, February 25, 2013

Juvenile Bald Eagle at Home in Maryland

Shortly after her arrival at FLWC
For the past six months, FLWC staff and volunteers have been caring for a juvenile bald eagle that came from Prairie du Chien near the Mississippi River. A resident of the area had been watching her on the ground with what appeared to be a leg or wing injury. She had also been drinking from a chlorinated pool which could cause medical issues if she persisted to drink from this source. When she arrived at FLWC, she was very dehydrated and thin.  FLWC staff and volunteers rehydrated her and fed her an easily digestible liquid diet via a feeding tube several times a day. She improved quickly and progressed to eating foods on her own. Also in our care at the same time was an adult male bald eagle with whom she was able to share a flight cage with after gaining some weight and strength. It was a great benefit to both birds to have one of their own species to share the space with.

Adult male on left, juvenile on the right.  Bald eagles don't get their fully white heads until 5 years of age.
After some time in our largest flight cage, we noticed she had some difficulty accurately landing on her perches after flight. We did some further evaluations and found she had a significant visual impairment in her left eye. Eagles rely on their keen eyesight to hunt for food and with this loss of vision, she would never be able to be released back to the wild.

At that point, we began looking for placement for her in a licensed educational facility that was approved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. We received several inquires from facilities across the country that were interested in taking her in. After speaking with the enthusiastic and caring staff at Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center in Nanjemoy, Maryland, it was apparent that they would be a great fit for her. The center in Maryland had recently lost a 30+ year old female bald eagle due to health issues and was looking for another bird to become their educational ambassador.

Once all the paperwork was complete, we began to look at transportation options for getting her from Wisconsin to Maryland.  Pilots N Paws was contacted by the Maryland center to see if they could help.  Pilots N Paws is non-profit organization that helps facilitate transportation of rescue and shelter animals by pilots and airplane owners that are willing to donate their services. Members of the group showed interest in helping right away but given the time of year, it took several weeks of planning and coordination to find a time where the weather was good all the way from Wisconsin to Maryland to make the transport safe for everyone. 

The day before her big trip
The eagles journey took place in two legs - the first pilot flew her from Janesville, Wisconsin to Zanesville, Ohio, and a second pilot took her the rest of the way to Maryland.  On Saturday morning, FLWC volunteers, Amy Streff and her husband, and John Kraak drove her from Madison to Janesville to catch her first flight at 11 am.  Here are some photos from her journey.

Getting her ready for her journey - left to right - intern Kassie Brown, volunteer John Kraak, and FLWC staff Jackie Edmunds.  They placed a tail guard and carpal bumpers on her to protect her from damaging her tail feathers and wings  during the long trip.
All ready to go
Arriving in Janesville

Pilot Mike Greene (middle),  and FLWC volunteers Amy Streff (second from right) and John Kraak (far right)

John delivering the final paperwork to Mike before heading out

Arrival in Ohio - half way there.

The hand-off in Ohio between pilot Mike Greene (right) who flew Wisconsin to Ohio, and Wes Hughes (left), who took the second leg of the trip.
By 7 pm, we had received news that she had arrived safely at her final destination.  While we would have preferred for her to be released to live freely in the wild, we are grateful that she has a permanent home where she can work to represent her species and help create a love and respect for them with the youth of Maryland.

At her final destination with her new handler, Environmental Education Instructor Mike Callahan, who is also an apprentice falconer.
You can read more about her journey in a newspaper article by Southern Maryland Newspapers. We'd like to thank Paula and Mike at Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center for their efforts in coordinating the transportation and for giving this girl a place to call home.  We would also like to thank pilots Mike Greene and Wes Hughes for generously donating their time and talent to get her to Maryland safely.

Post:  Brooke Lewis, Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor
Photos: Brooke Lewis, Mike Callahan, John Kraak, Mike Greene

1 comment:

  1. I was looking at my rescued catahoula leopard dog's "done" page on Pilots and Paws where she was flown by pilot Jim Carney from Athens TN to Circleville OH to her foster mom Tonyna and I brought up the home page and saw this article. What a wonderful rescue for that young eagle! God's Blessings and Peace on all who were involved in this. The pilots Mike and Wes are hero's for giving their time-planes and fuel to take care of this eagle. This is what Pilots and Paws do for any animal needing help. Thank God for all who help in anyway to give an animal a second chance for love and a home.


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