Only three squirrels to feed this time, but while I was doing that an adult male bald eagle arrived. I had seen an eagle at Wildwoods before—a juvenile was brought in with a broken wing when I first started volunteering. This eagle seemed to have no serious injuries, but he was very thin and smelled awful. He had an injury to his wing, but it seemed healed over and non-serious. It wasn’t clear what was wrong with him, why he wasn’t flying, so he’ll go down to the Raptor Center in St. Paul where he’ll get the best treatment possible.
I learned something new with this eagle. Their beaks, like our fingernails, continue to grow and need to be worn down so the top and bottom fit together properly. This makes sense; I had a parakeet who rubbed his beak on the bars of his cage, the posts he sat on, his toys, everything. But this eagle’s beak had not been worn down so the bottom part had grown too long and he could not properly close his mouth. It’s likely this means he can’t eat well which would explain why he was so thin.
As a first-year volunteer who’s only put in 2 hours a week since May, I don’t have the skills or authority to help with eagles and other large raptors. They are very dangerous and quick as lightning; you really have to know what you’re doing in order to keep yourself, others and the birds safe. But they let me watch, observe and learn, and for that I am grateful. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to be more involved but for now I am happy to watch the pros handle it.
This year, I was told, Wildwoods brought in twelve eagles. Only a couple have survived. The rest died from lead poisoning. Hunters: no matter how well you think you clean up after your kill, there is always something left behind. The eagles come to finish the job and end up eating lead bullets and shot in the process. It doesn’t take very much lead to kill an eagle, so please make the switch to non-lead based ammo. It’s not expensive if you’re a good shot. 😉
Visit Wildwoods’ website to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation.