A Giant Schnauzer’s concern and father and son’s teamwork changed the fate of an injured bald eagle Tuesday evening in the Mendenhall Valley.
Ian and Dylan Martin neared the south end of Kaxdegoowu Heen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge) Trail when their four-legged companion, Elliot, went missing. After a few moments, the dog, who keeps up with his owner even when he’s on a bike, was suddenly absent.
Dylan Martin spotted the dog next to the Mendenhall River, and also what distracted the pooch: a bald eagle grounded with an apparent head injury.
“I could see that he was in trouble,” Ian Martin said by phone Thursday afternoon. “He couldn’t even lift his head up. He looked like he was in near death to me, he was in such bad shape.”
Soon, thanks to a friend who furnished a tarp and gloves, Ian Martin lugged the bird onto the trail, where the rescuers waited for Kathy Benner of the Juneau Raptor Center to take over.
Benner could tell the eagle was badly injured because its eyes were shut.
“That’s pretty serious, when a bird doesn’t even have its eyes open,” Benner said. “When I approached the bird, it did perk up and it did flip over on its back which is what they do as a defensive posture.”
Benner took the bird back to the Juneau Raptor Center, where she injected sodium lactate solution under its skin and left him in the shelter for the night, unsure the bird would survive the night.
However, the eagle was “very feisty,” when she returned the next day.
The raptor center on Wednesday transported the eagle to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka for further care. The bird didn’t have any broken bones, she said, but did sustain chest bruises and a possible head injury from a suspected collision. Benner said the bird had been down for “a little while” because of the look of the tail feathers and feet.
Should the bird make a full-recovery and re-release into the wild, Ian Martin said he’ll be there for it.
“I’ve been here 26 years and I’ve been out on the trails with my dogs for many of those years, and I’ve never experienced this before,” Ian Martin said. “I’m just so happy.”
The Juneau Raptor Center responds about 50 eagle calls every year, according to Benner. To report an injured bird to the Juneau Raptor Center, call the injury pager at 790-5424.
• Contact reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.