Juneau Raptor Center received a call Thursday morning that doesn’t come every day — a baby bald eagle was found out of its nest and on the ground.
Someone found the nestling bird under a tree in their backyard on Mendenhall Peninsula Road, which is by Fritz Cove in between the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge and Auke Bay. It’s probably just 3 weeks old, Juneau Raptor Center office manager Kathy Benner told the Empire.
“He already had wrapped it in a towel and was kind enough to bring it to my house on North Douglas,” Benner wrote in an email to the Empire. “I took him out to our clinic and examined him and gave him fluids under the skin.”
Benner said when reached by phone that she did not see any other apparent injuries such as puncture wounds on the eagle. Juneau Raptor Center is a nonprofit rehabilitation center for birds of prey in Juneau; they sent the bird by plane to Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka on Thursday afternoon. There, it will receive a full examination and continued care.
“They have a better facility over there,” Benner said. “They have their own in-house vet, and it’s going to take way more intense hands-on care with that bird, and they have the people to do it. We do what’s best for the birds, and for that baby it was best to send it.”
The bird is too young to be able to care for itself and nestling eagles generally stay in their nests for 10 to 12 weeks. Benner also noted this bird may have had injuries that were not readily apparent.
She said it’s hard to say how long the nestling will require care, when it could be released or if it will be released in the wild until it has a full examination. Alaska Raptor Center’s bird handlers did not return calls Thursday or Friday.
Benner said her best guess of what happened is that the nestling was plucked from its nest by another bald eagle looking for an easy meal and dropped to the ground.
“Eagles raid nests of other birds,” Benner said. “We’ve seen it with great blue herons, with ravens and we’ve seen it with other eagles. I wouldn’t say it’s common, but it does happen.”
What’s less common is that a live nestling was found and treated. Usually, they’re eaten or not found alive.
“I’ve been with the raptor center since ‘99, and this is only the second nestling I’ve taken care of,” Benner said.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.