AN EAGLE SUCCESS STORY AT SWEET ARROW LAKE COUNTY PARK
Now that we seem to be "out of the woods" I will tell you this story.
For at least three years we have been seeing a pair of Bald Eagles on a regular basis at Sweet Arrow Lake. People were always asking me "where's the nest?" Well, there was no known nest and we were not seeing immature birds with these adults, so I assumed that they were, for whatever reason, non-breeding birds. But... this year was a different story. Bald Eagles reach breeding age around 4 or 5 years old and this year they must have come of age because we did have a nest! The nest was discovered in April with two healthy eaglets that were estimated to be about 4 weeks old at the time. There are now over 250 nest now in PA but we were told by the game commission officer that this was only the 3rd one in Schuylkill Co.
Image by Tom Jobe
All was well on May 11, 2013
But at the end of May. disaster struck. The nest fell one night in a wind storm. Perhaps this young adult pair needed more nest building practice or maybe it was that they chose a tree that already had dead limbs on top but one day I got a call from a friend who was helping to monitor the nest and said she couldn't see it. We immediately went to the area and found the nest on the ground with the two eaglets in it. They were alive. We called Peggy Hentz at Red Creek Wildlife Center and Officer Kevin Clouser with the PA Game Commission. They were there within the hour. Peggy examined the eaglets and decided that she had to take one back with her to the rehab. The other eaglet seemed to be fine and it was decided to leave it where it was and continue monitoring it.
Peggy determined that the injured eaglet had a fractured leg. After stabilizing the leg she transported it to a vet in the Philadelphia area where surgery was done to put pins in the leg. Several more visits were required to check progress and later remove the pins. At this point, no one knew for sure what the outcome would be.
In the meantime we continued to monitor the remaining eaglet. He was good at hiding and since it was sometimes tricky to find it, we started referring to it as Waldo (as in where's Waldo) but this quickly evolved into Walden. It stayed on the ground for sometime and thankfully the parents continued to attend it. Walden was growing. In a short time, Walden began moving up into the shrubs and then finally the tree tops. After about a week or so of hop flying, it took off. It didn't take long before this eaglet was flying like a pro and beginning to hunting on it's own.
The injured chick progressed and I am very happy to tell you that, after 2 months of rehab, was able to be released here at the end of July. The family was seen two days later gathered around it and seems to have accepted this missing young one back without hesitation. Although a little more wobbly that it's sibling it became fully flighted very quickly and is off and running. Before it was released, Scott Weidensaul came over to the rehab and banded the bird so that we might be able to more easily identify it. Many thanks to Scott for taking the time to do this. If any of you are birding at Sweet Arrow Lake and spot this immature eagle with a band on the right leg, please drop me an e-mail and let me know. I am, of course, still trying to monitor it and since it is cruising around pretty well any help with sightings would be much appreciated.
The two eaglets were on the ground with the nest. The injured bird is on the right. 5/23/13
I'd like to thank John Morgan and Patti Barber from the Game Commission for their advise along the way, Officer Kevin Clouser for his help and quick response, and my good friend Barb Jucker and neighbors Joanne and Terry Doyle for their help with monitoring the birds.
But most of all, I would like to thank Peggy Hentz and the great volunteers at the Red Creek Wildlife Center for their invaluable help in rescuing and rehabbing the injured bird. We are so fortunate to have Red Creek here in Schuylkill Co. There never were many people who did this very vital rehab work but there seems to be fewer and fewer of them all the time. In this case, it was even more remarkable because Peggy had lost her long time rehab and life partner, Morrie Katz, to a long battle with cancer just two week before the nest fell. In honor of Morrie, we named the rehabbed eaglet Mo.