Monday, June 13, 2011
Eagle #4 Has Landed
"Orphan Season" is the best of times, worst of times. It is fun in that you never know what (or when) some cool animal is going to come to you that really needs your help. I hate the sleep deprivation involved, the fact that it is also the same time of year that things are very busy at school or the fact that I have to carefully listen on the phone to many well intentioned people that have an animal emergency that isnt an emergency at all . It often is a "animal abduction" and many times the babies are not orphans, they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught. I don't always agree with the slogan "If you care leave it there" because there are many times that an animal is injured, starving or weak and we can help that animal and get it back into the wild.
Sunday mornings, my wife and I attempt to sit on our front porch and drink a cup of coffee together. It is one of the few times a week that we can talk without being interupted by our kids problems, animal problems and the phone ringing off of the hook. Yesterday I had just set down and I got the call from a cell phone in Minekill State Park. DEC had given this guy my number. The guy was fishing in a remote area with a friend and they had found a baby bald eagle sitting in the river. This is always the hard part. From a phone call with a distraught person, I need to make a judgement call....."Does the animal need help" or should it be left alone. From the information given, I decided that regardless of the species of bird (I really didnt expect another Eagle)it needed to get picked up. I explained how to do it without getting some talons into your arm. I explained that I tossed out my back last weekend and couldnt hike down into the woods for an hour to find them. I told them that I would be waiting in the parking lot at the trailhead and I gathered my gear and left my lovely wife sitting on the porch smiling as I pulled out to go meet them.
I got there before they had been able to hike all the way out. I was talking to some folks that were there to look at the waterfalls and I heard something crashing up through the woods. I figured it was either a bear or the guy with the Eagle so I went to take a look. Much to my surprise, it was an Eagle and the rather tired guy who had hiked an hour back out of the trail (all uphill) carrying it. I did a quick field inspection of the bird, could find no major issues other than the fledgling (bird just leaving the nest) is VERY thin and was having a bad day. Around 70% of all Raptors (Hawks, Owls and Falcons) die the first year of life and this Eagle was a day or two away from meeting his maker.
I got the Eagle home, was waiting for another rehabber (Kelli GB) to arrive with a Great Horned Owl that was running around on the ground at the Stamford Golf Course. I could smell him before she opened her box. The GH Owl had obviously eaten a skunk the night before and had gotten sprayed. This has all happened by noon....on a sunday. :) Other rehabbers/falconer friends showed up and the eagle is stable. After an IV, the Eagle will get liquid nutrition for a few days, once he starts eating again we will get to work on solid food. Eagles are a nightmare to rehab, everyone wants to do them, there are a lot of politics in play. I am hoping that DEC and the Federal Office in Mass. will let Kelly Martin and I finish this bird. This is the 4th Eagle that I have picked up now and I would like to see one through and be released. We did it on the last one and I would like to see this eaglet fly off above the Schoharie Creek right where it was found.
The Eagle is really lucky that two guys fishing early on a sunday morning cared enough to forget about fishing and do the right thing to save this Eaglet from a certain death. I think that they are very cool guys and I am confident that this Eagle can be nursed back to health and can be released back where it came from. I hope that they will join me when that day comes, who knows, maybe after the release I will even do some fishing with them. Until next time, :) WES