The Juneau Raptor Center has rescued more than half a dozen birds in the last week, including six bald eagles.
The rescues have come amid fledging season and as other factors have increased the amount of birds in distress.
“We have 19 since Jan. 1. That’s a lot. We usually treat close to 50 bald eagles a year. So 19 already is a lot,” said Kathy Benner, general manager for JRC. “It’s kind of spread out through the year most of the time.”
JRC has rescued four bald eagles in the last week alone, as well as assisting a resident who found a pair of eagles entangled with each other on the beach near Auke Bay. In the last week, they’ve rescued two juvenile and two adult bald eagles. One juvenile and one of the adult birds were transported to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka for treatment.
“They try to get us updates when they can,” Benner said of the ARC. “We’ve been sending them a lot of birds lately.”
The other juvenile eagle is currently unconscious and being treated, Benner said. The remaining adult eagle had suffered an irreparable facial wound.
“We contacted Sitka Raptor Center, but it was so far gone, there was nothing they could do and we had to euthanize him,” Benner said. “It was an older wound, maybe from electrocution, or he got taloned.”
Benner said they were also able to help a resident who had encountered a pair of eagles locked together on the beach near the Spaulding Beach condos.
“So it could be one of three things. They could be fighting over food. They do it for fighting over territory. And they do it when they’re about to mate. They fly into the sky, lock on to each other, and tumble to the ground. Usually they separate, sometimes they don’t,” Benner said. “Eagles get really focused on one thing. Neither bird wants to be the first bird to let go.”
Once the resident distracted the birds, they separated and flew off with no apparent ill effects. It’s always a good idea to call JRC anyway if one sees a pair of eagles apparently entangled, Benner said.
“They were probably there for not more than an hour. The tide was coming in and that would probably be enough to get them moving, but you never know,” Benner said. “A lot of times they just have to let go and go on their way.”
Benner said the JRC had also had a busy season with other types of birds as well.
“This is the time of year for birds to fledge,” Benner said, referring to the time in a bird’s life cycle when they develop their wings enough to generate lift. “We get a lot of raven calls. They’re out of the nest but they’re not flying. As long as they’re not in danger of a cat or a dog or being hit by a car, we don’t come. The parents still feed them.”
JRC is currently taking care of a young raven and several other types of non-raptor birds.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of pine siskins this year. We’ve had a very unusual amount of them hitting windows,” Benner said. “That tells me it’s a good year for pine siskins. We usually get some every year but not like we’ve been seeing. So far we’ve had eight or nine. That’s unusual for one type of bird.”
JRC is also looking to replace income usually derived from the absent tide of tourists to keep the nonprofit running.
“Normally this time of year, we have Lady Baltimore up at the tram and our merchandise at the gift shop. We’re looking for other ways to raise that money,” Benner said. “We’re still taking care of the same amount of birds.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.