The bald eagle may symbolize America, but for a group of local volunteers who rescue the raptors when they are sick or injured, it’s more personal.
While many people in Juneau were busy celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, volunteers at the Juneau Raptor Center were out rescuing birds — including an eagle, a baby duckling, a robin, and a juvenile sapsucker — work the group has been doing since 1987.
“Our Fourth of July was very busy,” said Kathy Benner, manager of the Juneau Raptor Center in a phone interview on Monday. “Our volunteers do wonderful work and sacrifice a lot to help the birds.”
On Sunday, July 4, she said that hikers called in a downed eagle on a dirt road near Western Auto in the Lemon Creek area. Volunteers dispatched to the site found the eagle had suffered a compound fracture to his left wing. The eagle was euthanized because of the extent of his injuries, Benner said.
However, many rescues have happier endings.
On June 27, people found an eaglet weighing only about a pound and half on the ground near Angoon. Local volunteers rescued the raptor, and Alaska Seaplanes transported him to Juneau. Volunteers fed him, administered fluids and created a kennel with shredded paper to increase his comfort.
“He’s doing great,” Benner said, adding that the eaglet was named Pearl and is now at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka.
She said that local birds and raptors face several challenges, including being struck by cars, territorial disputes with other eagles and suffering injuries from airplane turbulence.
“It’s unusual to know what happened to the bird,” Benner said.
A busy year
The group has rescued 29 eagles and 72 other birds so far this year.
“It’s a little bit over normal. But not by much. It’s not unprecedented. But, it’s busy,” Benner said, noting that the group rescues 150-200 birds some years. She said that better weather brings more people outside and that helps the group find birds in need of assistance.
Benner said that the Juneau Raptor Center is currently looking for donations. She said the group, which is a nonprofit organization, typically receives donations from cruise ship passengers who encounter Lady Baltimore, the eagle kept at the tram station atop Mount Roberts. However, the construction of a wildlife structure for her and the COVID-19-induced pause on cruising has meant two seasons without that source of income.
Benner said the group is selling merchandise again at the Mount Roberts gift shop, but Lady Baltimore won’t return this year due to a limited cruise season.
The Juneau Raptor Center accepts donations through the group’s website at juneauraptorcenter.org and that an online gift shop is also available.
Found a bird in distress?
If you find a bird in distress, contact the Juneau Raptor Center emergency hotline at (907)790-5424. Volunteers monitor the line 24 hours a day.
• Contact Dana Zigmund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-308-4891.