Severely injured eagle airlifted to mainland sanctuary

  • Jun. 18, 2015 7:00 a.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverA injured eagle has been sent off island to the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (O.W.L.) in Delta B.C. after flying into a picture window near the dock in Masset. It was thought the mature, male eagle had broken his wing in the accident, but upon arriving at O.W.L. June 2, monitoring revealed he had not suffered a broken wing, but had sustained a serious head injury due to the impact. His left eye is swollen, which indicates proof head trauma. He is now in the intensive care unit of O.W.L and has started eating his own.  “We don’t get eagles in here due to house impacts often,” spokesperson Catherine Albertson said. “That’s more of a small-bird risk-this is rare.”To avoid such incidents from reoccurring, Ms. Albertson suggested people add decorations and other items to break up the imaging of the windows, helping prevent the birds from getting easily confused. With this particular eagle, it’s caregivers are trying to repatriate him to Masset as quickly as possible, as a bare patch of his chest, called a brewed patch, indicates he has a mate awaiting his return. “When it is a situation like this, we want to get the eagle back into the wild as soon as possible,” Ms. Albertson said. Peter Grundmann who runs a wildlife shelter in Sandspit told the Observer that eagles are more likely to be hit by a car, than flying into a building on Haida Gwaii. Another thing that often causes injuries in eagles is electricity, such as when they are unfortunate enough to be sitting on a hydro pole or line and accidentally make contact with two lines at once. Terrible burns, internal injuries or immediate death are a result of eagles flying into or standing on power lines. Mr. Grundmann suggests that if road kill is present on the side of the road to move the dead animals at least ten meters into the forest so the eagles are not startled up into flight and can eat in peace. This may reduce the amount of vehicle and eagle encounters. Ms. Albertson did recommend not feeding eagles close to populated areas due to the increased risk factor. “Eagles will scavenge before hunting, because it is easier,” Ms. Albertson explained. When the eagle gains more strength and the swelling in his left eye goes down, the O.W.L facility will move him from intensive care to an open pen so he can stretch his wings. When he is fully rehabilitated the plan is to come and release him as close to his nest as possible. With a head trauma the rehabilitation is depending on the case. It is unknown how quickly he can be brought home to Haida Gwaii. “It is always rewarding getting the birds rehabilitated and back home,” Ms. Albertson said.Pacific Coastal Airlines transported the eagle to the O.W.L. centre free of charge.

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