Recovery for Nora the Bald Eagle

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The Laswell family wasn’t supposed to be there on that beach that night, but somehow the stars aligned and they were there to find Nora. As Viola Laswell helped her dad search for beach glass on the last night of their trip to the Erie area, she found more than she bargained for when she spotted Nora. She barely looked like an eagle. Her feather were soaked, she was missing her tail, and other than the faintest spark in her eyes as the family approached they had initially thought the worst.

Without thinking twice, the Laswell family jumped into action to get Nora help. After contacting the Game Commission, deputy Corey Clabbatz brought the sick eagle to Tamarack for treatment at the end of July 2022. After evaluation it appeared that Nora was suffering from West Nile Virus which resulted in the loss of some of her flight and tail feathers. Without a full set of feathers, she was unable to lift out of the lake waters after perhaps diving for a fish. Her treatment and recovery was a long and slow process that involved feather imping, supportive medications, weight gain, feather regrowth, and flight exercises. Nearly three years old, Nora will grow more white feathers in her head and tail each year until she attains full adult coloration at age 5 or 6.

Culminating 6 months rehabilitation at Tamarack Wildlife Center, Nora had passed her physical flight test, and physical examination with “flying” colors. Plans for her release were coordinated between TWC and Pennsylvania Game Commission officers. As she was found along the shores of Lake Erie it was determined that returning her to that location would be best. It takes a team to rehabilitate any animal, and on a cold January day in 2023 that team was there to see Nora soar. The Laswell family returned to Erie for the event and was welcomed by numerous TWC staff and volunteers, Game Commission personnel, Bald Eagle enthusiasts and supporters of TWC, and the local media.

Naturally, it had to be Nora’s initial savior, Viola, who opened the crate door to set her free that day. As Nora quickly and confidently took to the skies all in attendance stood quiet and watched with reverence for this amazing bird. It was an unforgettable moment for all.



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