Jordan Lake eaglet fighting to survive after storm tosses nest
Posted May 16, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — One of two bald eaglets that hatched near Jordan Lake last month died when it fell out of its nest during a thunderstorm Thursday night, and the other is fighting to survive.
The injured female eaglet suffered scrapes and dehydration after falling from the 60-foot nest and was taken to Avian and Exotic Animal Care, where veterinarians are keeping her warm, dry and under observation.
“We are not far enough along in the process to know (if she will survive),” Dr. Christine Eckermann-Ross said. “We are very concerned about her.”
She said the eaglet has an injury to her foot, which can be devastating for a bird of prey.
If the bird lives through the next 24 hours, it will be transferred to the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, where it will begin rehabilitation. The center has adult eagles that will foster the little bird and teach it how thrive.
Those caring for the eaglet say they hope to release her back into the wild. But the little bird has a long way to go.
“She cannot even stand up yet. She’s only 6 weeks old. She’s actually starting to grow in her feathers,” said Steve Stone, director of the American Wildlife Refuge, a Raleigh nonprofit organization.
Stone, who is licensed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission as a raptor rescuer and educator, was called by the agency to pick up the eaglet Thursday morning. He said the nest collapsed in the storm, and birds went sliding out. The loss was captured on a live webcam set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“She had a traumatic night in the storm,” Stone said. “Her talons were cold to the touch.”
If the nest was intact, the eaglet could be returned to it, Stone said. Another nest could be built for the bird, but that doesn’t always work. Her best chance of survival into adulthood is to send her to the foster center, he said.
Eckermann-Ross said it’s common for birds to perish during spring storms, and eagle chicks are especially vulnerable because their nests are large and somewhat exposed. She said it’s important that the bird have limited interaction with humans so she doesn’t lose her natural instincts.
Stone said the mother bird is definitely affected by the loss of her chicks.
“She’s absolutely aware what happened. There’s no doubt,” he said. “How she reacts depends on a few things. If the (birds) rebuild the nest, there’s still a little time and they may lay more eggs.”
Stone said the eaglet rescue is bittersweet. A 47-year-old eagle at American Wildlife Refuge died this week.
“We just lost one,” he said. “Now, we’re helping one.”