Eagles are revered by most Americans as being a symbol of strength and freedom. They’re majestic birds, but even they get themselves into some sticky situations sometimes that require human intervention.
On Feb. 1, the raptor rescue in Michigan known as Wings of Wonder got a call that there was a bald eagle in Leelanau County that was having a rough day and needed help.
People had been watching as four eagles fed on the edge of a frozen lake where the temperature was around zero degrees. Eventually the eagles flew away — all except for one. They couldn’t tell what was wrong with the bird as he hobbled along, but he couldn’t get himself up in the air.
Concerned for the eagle, they called Wings of Wonder and got Ken Scott, a volunteer who ended up filming the rescue and posting it to YouTube.
“By fortune or misfortune, an eagle that somehow had the inconvenience of coming into contact with Lake Michigan during the recent polar vortex was in trouble,” Scott wrote on YouTube. “So, they (the finders) contacted Wings of Wonder where I was holding down the fort while the director, Rebecca Lessard was making her own Polar Vortex sidestep by visiting her grand baby in Dallas, TX!”
“I called volunteer Chris Johnson to see if he had some time open for a possible adventure and he bit!”
The video shows Scott and Johnson working together to “herd” the eagle toward land. The eagle hopped along and avoided them for some time before they were able to pounce.
And in case anyone would be worried that Scott filmed the rescue instead of helping, he made sure to explain that the “video is a spotty story of the rescue and rehabilitation as I was there to rescue/assist and not to photo’g, but I couldn’t resist getting some clips when the timing was right and my help was not needed.”
When they captured the large bird of prey, they realized that a frozen ball of yuck and water — weighing as much as him according to 9 & 10 News — had formed on his tail and rear end area, which was dragging him down and making it impossible for him to fly. Small balls of ice had also formed on his feathers, weighing him down even more.
“Getting the eagle back to WoW,” Scott continued, “we set him up over night in a crate near a heat vent hoping the freezerlings would let loose, but alas, the big one did not … so, the next morning, Jim Manley joined the crew to help with the next step of ‘forced defrostation’ … warm tap water directly applied to the ice ball.”
Free of the heavy anchor, the bird relieved himself and seemed much more comfortable. It wasn’t long before he was flying easily in the enclosure, proving that he’d be fine after all.
“That cold was so extreme I think the ice just formed so quickly he wasn’t able to get out of the ice,” Manly later told 9 & 10 News.
“He’s eating well, flying great, very good at flying, doing loops underneath the perches, he’s looking really good,” Manly continued. “I think the bird…is in excellent health, his weight was very good, he’s doing really well despite the cold weather we’ve had.”
The rescue group will be releasing the bird back into the wild on Feb. 10, and has invited anyone in the community who’s interested to attend the release.
“Come witness this gorgeous adult Bald Eagle, survivor of the latest polar vortex, fly free once again,” the group shared on Facebook. “(E)veryone is welcome!”
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