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An Eagle Survives A Puzzling Predicament

Jul25

 

The most commonly asked question asked about Bald Eagle 13-0164 was, “She got stuck in what?” The answer, “A fish turbine”, didn’t usually do much to clear the matter up for the person doing the asking. Even if you know that a fish turbine is something that facilitates the safe passage of fish at a hydroelectric dam, it doesn’t help explain how an eagle gets stuck in one. But that is what this bird did. She ended up with hypothermia, a deep laceration in her left wing, and multiple abrasions and contusions for her trouble. She also ended up on the surgery table at PAWS, where her injuries were treated by wildlife veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee.

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The eagle was a challenging patient. Her wing laceration was deep, and care had to be taken to ensure that it would heal without causing muscle or skin constriction that could impact the eagle’s ability to fly. The bird also protested her captivity by thrashing about in her enclosure, which raised concerns about her causing further injury to herself. She was in our care for more than four months before she was finally ready to return home. On July 20, after Dr. John removed some protective wraps that had been put in place to prevent the bird from injuring herself in transit, I placed the bird on the ground at her release site. She took flight immediately.

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The eagle flew in a low, arcing flight. She eventually came to rest about 100 yards away on the banks of the Chehalis River.

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After taking some time to get her bearings, the eagle flew again. This time she crossed the river and landed on the large branch of a cottonwood tree. You could just make out her white head and tail against the dark brown and green background.

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As those of us in attendance talked excitedly about the eagle and her return to the wild, we momentarily took our eyes off the bird. When we looked back toward the cottonwood tree, the eagle was gone.

- Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist


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Comments

Kevin, thanks for this great story! It's amazing that Dr. Huckabee and the rest of the team were able to repair the eagle's wing *and* allow it to heal properly so she could fly again. Congratulations to the whole Wildlife team!

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