An Eaglet Returns Home Again

1 baby Bald Eaglet in treatment

An Eaglet Returns Home Again

Tucked away high in a nest under the watchful eyes of its doting parents is the safest place for a nestling Bald Eagle, so in late May when a property owner near Fairview PA found a young nestling eagle on the ground they knew right away that it was in need of help. Eaglets can easily be injured when they fall from a nest, given their large body mass and the height of the fall. When Carol Holmgren, director of TWC, learned that Game Commission officers were unavailable to retrieve the bird, she got permission for Sue DeArment, former director of TWC now involved in wildlife capture and transport, to capture the eaglet. The bird was admitted to Tamarack in late evening, but no time was wasted in evaluating it for injuries. A thorough physical exam and x-rays showed no signs of injuries or illnesses This was great news!

TWC staff estimated the approximate age of the eaglet as 8 weeks by measuring the length of its growing flight feathers, which meant the eaglet should remain in its nest for 2 to 4 more weeks. With no need for medical treatment and still needing parental care, the best course of action for this eaglet was to reunite it with its parents. But how do you get an eaglet back to its family nest many feet above the ground in a tall tree? 

Tamarack Wildlife Center staff, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the landowner worked quickly to come up with a plan to send this eaglet home again. Either erecting an artificial nest platform at a lower height, or climbing the tall nest tree were considered as options. The team, including Carol Holmgren, Pennsylvania Game Wardens Matt Savinda and Mike Stutts, and the landowner gathered before sunset on a forested ridge near the nest. After examining the nest tree, Matt, a certified climber, determined that climbing was feasible. It would have been easy to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery these Bald Eagles had picked for their home, which included a gorgeous ravine view, but there was work to be done before the sun went down. Matt Savinda began setting up the rope system that he would use to climb 80 feet into the massive tree while Carol Holmgren and Mike Stutts carefully secured the eaglet in a cloth bag that would be raised into the tree.

The team worked quickly and quietly knowing that the eaglets parents were in the area, anxiously watching their every move. Once climber Matt was in place, the eaglet was raised into the tree and placed back into its nest. To minimize stress to the eaglet or its parents, the team waited to celebrate this accomplishment until away from the nest site. The landowner watched the nest throughout the next week and reported the renesting was successful and the parents were once again caring for their eaglet. 

As we share this story now, a few weeks later, we can picture this eaglet as a strong fledgling ready to take its first flights out into the world. The staff at TWC, along with the PGC officers and the landowner, are thrilled to be part of this eaglet’s journey. We hope you are celebrating as well, because it’s support from people like you that make it possible for wildlife like this eaglet to have a second chance. 

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