Rescued eaglet eating, mugging at camera
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, May 20, 2011 3:53PM PDT
Donald, the fluffy, six-week-old eaglet, is making a full recovery after a daring tree-top rescue that is allowing him to compete for meals with his two siblings.
Wildlife biologist David Hancock said Friday the eaglet he has named after U.S. billionaire Donald Trump is eating well and has been mugging for the webcam camera that streams live everything that goes on in his nest.
"It was almost as if he was showing off, because he was right up front-centre of the close camera looking into the lens," Hancock said.
"I don't know what he was saying, but it looked like, 'See, I'm fine, I'm OK.' The other two guys were in the background and he was right front-centre."
Hancock and wildlife rescue specialist Jeff Krieger were hoisted up to Donald's nest by crane Thursday to disentangle Donald from fishing line that was keeping him tethered to the nest wall, out of reach of food.
Hancock said he was still in a state of amazement Friday that the rescue turned into a smooth and successful mission, considering all the potential pitfalls.
"Gosh, that was traumatic," said Hancock.
"We tried to rescue the bird, but what happens when you bring all those press out and the truck gets stuck or the basket accidentally hits the bottom limb of the tree and the whole nest or the whole tree comes down?
"Those are thing things that are going through my mind," he said. "But everything worked incredibly well."
Though Donald had once been the dominant one of the three eaglets, his plight left him thinner and in danger of death.
Hancock said he first received calls from Internet viewers in Louisiana and London, England alerting him to the tied up eaglet and rescue plans were soon underway.
But the nest sits in the top branches of a 35-metre dying fir tree, making scaling the tree by a rescuer impossible.
Plans to drop down to the tree via helicopter were nixed Wednesday.
And originally, it was feared that the wet, mushy ground beneath the tree wouldn't support a crane to lift rescuers up.
But on Thursday, a crane company volunteered its equipment, workers and huge pads to stabilize the machinery.
Hancock said he noticed during his complicated visit to the nest that it was well-stocked with food. He said he saw the remains of a rabbit, salmon and what appeared to be a freshly-caught bullhead fish.
Hancock and Krieger untangled the eaglet, doused some disinfectant on the bird's cut talon and put him back in the nest, confident Donald would return to his bombastic self.
At one point at about lunch-time Friday on the live Internet stream, one of the adult eagles dropped a fresh carcass of a rodent-like animal into the nest and all three eaglets were seen feeding.
How to deal with distressed birds
According to the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., if you find a bird in trouble:
- Look for obvious injuries before bring it in. Baby birds struggling on the ground may just be going through the natural steps of leaving the nest.
- It's okay to place a baby bird with no feathers back in the nest. Contrary to urban mythology, human scent will not create any problems.
- Bring the bird to animal rescuers if it's tangled in something, but don't try to remove the material yourself.
- Never feed a baby bird; it can create larger problems down the road.
For advice, call the WRA's hotline at 604-526-7275.
With files from CTV News