May 8, 2020
Baby Golden Eagle
Returns To The Wild!
Last Friday, we received a call about a baby eagle making its way to BRC. This was a first! While we’ve had juveniles turned in for care, we’ve never had a baby.

The finders described a 3-year-old nest on their property that had fallen apart with a single baby tumbling down with it. Luckily, the property owners have been vigilantly watching this nesting pair and rescued the baby immediately, seeking care with us. Because of their dedication, we knew the eaglet was exactly 2 weeks old.
Little eaglet under the debris. Picture by the finders.
Staff performed the exam to find a mid-shaft ulna fracture with good placement. In terms of fractures, if a bird is going to have one, that's a good one to have. Nice and easy. The flurry of phone calls began to eagle experts and our team to initiate planning for a re-nesting with the parents.

Though we regularly work with broken bones, since this was a “high profile” baby we asked Dr. Rupiper to s et the bone early the following day to ensure perfect alignment . He also recommended supplements for feeding to decrease healing time and aid the baby in getting back to the nest as soon as possible.

Birds heal very quickly, and baby birds even more so. An adult bird with an injury will have a completely healed bone in 2 weeks. Baby birds, since all they're doing is eating and growing feathers and bones, can have a fully healed bone in as little as 3 days.

The clock started ticking . Could we heal this bone fully and in a short enough amount of time to ensure the parents would still be there?
Nest Recon
Enter the Raptor Team! Our unsung heroes work behind the scenes putting critical time and effort into nest reconnaissance. This highly trained team assesses the nest situation, height and species of tree, parent activity, presence of other babies, and the condition of surrounding area.

What the Raptor Team discovers determines whether we can safely put a baby back up in a nest. Together with Merlin and Seamus of Merlin Arborist Group , I joined the second recon day to assess these variables. Below are photos of the scene. As you can see, sometimes determining nest location is tricky.
The Next Three Days...
Eaglet continues to heal at BRC

Staff takes every precaution not to imprint or habituate the baby to humans. He's eating well and the fracture area is checked every 1.5 days to assess healing.
Papasan Chair becomes Eagle nest!

We learned from our friends at Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
that a Papasan chair would
be the closest structure and size for an eagle nest. We called and visited stores explaining the dire situation of the eaglet, and put out notice to the community. We ended up with 3 chairs! Huge thanks to Cost Plus World Market , Lisa Wolper , and Mike McDonald for jumping to action to help give this baby a new nest!
Parent eagle recon

Things were coming together quickly, but we didn't have much information on how long an adult pair would stay in the area after a nest and only baby were gone. The finders reported the pair had built nests in surrounding trees and in the same tree in previous years. The Raptor Team reached out to other organizations with eaglet
experience and discovered
that re-nest was possible
within a week, but that it
could take over 24 hours for the parents to return. And there were no guarantees.

The finders kept watch and monitored parent activity with each passing day and kept us closely in the loop.
The Moment of Truth
7:00 am Installing the nest
The next day, we installed the new nest using material from the fallen nest to fill in the Papasan chair and provide more support. Once installed, we added supplemental food in the hope of attracting the parents.
9:00 am Placing in baby

Pictured is Merlin climbing up with the eaglet in tow. He and Seamus have braved large mama Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls but eagles were a first. We were all anxious to see if mama eagle was going to swoop in and how she would react once baby was back in the nest and begging for food.
The wait
Would the parents return? Would
they accept their baby back?

Once the baby was 80+ feet up in the nest, all we could do was wait.
"The Eagle Has Landed!"
That's the text we received at 6:30 pm!
Turns out the parents had been out hunting and returned with some fresh food for baby. The finders witnessed mom ripping up food and feeding the little one!

We had worried the baby would have to brave the cold night and predators alone, but we had allowed the parents to do their job and they did it admirably!
Here is a picture from the finders the following day showing the baby peeking over the Papasan after being reunited. Many thanks to the finders and volunteer Joan Geary for visually documenting this baby eagle's journey from injury to return to the wild.

This is why I love BRC. Seeing birds back in nature especially if we can reunite babies with their families is the ultimate reminder that all the hard work and long hours are absolutely worth it. Had we not been there for this baby eaglet, he would not have had the chance to live into adulthood, and the world would have one less eagle in it.

Looking for an extra special Mother’s Day gift?
Give the gift of life!
BRC currently has over 60 babies filling our wards. A gift of $35 or more will sponsor one of these tiny ones currently in our care. The special mother in your life will receive an email including a description and picture of the bird she is nurturing from afar.

You can also purchase one of our Ambassador Guardianships here!
You Ask, We Answer
We watched an immature Bald Eagle and a fully adult one engage in a little family dispute. Is it possible that the immature is from this season or is he likely to be a first year?  

When you think of a Bald Eagle, you think of a huge, majestic bird with a dark body, bright white tail and head, and a large vibrant yellow bill. But did you know that this is only their  adult  plumage? Bald Eagles take ~5 years to reach maturity and gain this iconic look. Therefore, if you witness an immature Bald Eagle in the wild, it could be anywhere from ~1-4 years old.
Mature, breeding Bald Eagles lay a single clutch of 1-3 eggs around early April. These eggs hatch out ~34-36 days later (i.e. mid May) and the babies generally do not fully fledge the nest until they are >10 weeks old (late July). So, the answer to the question of whether an immature Bald Eagle seen in late March is a baby from the current breeding season - is no, it’s too early in the year. This juvenile must be at least from the previous breeding season, though It could be upwards of 4 years old. We would have to see a picture to narrow down the exact age, as juvenile plumage changes from year to year as they mature. To learn more about aging juvenile bald eagles, check out the photo gallery from our friends at All About Birds:
You make this life-saving work possible. Thanks to you, this year alone approximately 3,000 native wild birds will have a second chance at life. Thank you for your generosity and support!
The Bird Rescue Center | 707/ 523-2473 | Email