Eaglet rescued in the Aleutians, recuperating in Anchorage

Caretakes hope to return the baby eagle, or eaglet, to the wild. (Photo courtesy Bird TLC in Anchorage)

(Photo courtesy Bird TLC in Anchorage)

A lost baby eagle from Unalaska is making a new start in Anchorage, where it’s slated to get a second chance at life in the wild.

Bald eagles are everywhere in Unalaska – but it’s not often you see a fuzzy little eaglet sitting on the side of the road. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday, when a police officer found an eaglet on Captains Bay Road. It’s in an industrial part of town, and the eaglet was in the way of passing cars.

Public Safety Director Jamie Sunderland says they couldn’t find any nests nearby.

“Rather than leave it to its own demise, the officer took it in a little kennel and made a number of phone calls trying to reach different federal and state agencies who sometimes deal with eagles,” Sunderland says.

It’s usually against the law to interfere with an eagle at all. But a Good Samaritan clause lets people help an injured bird, as long as they can get it to a licensed care center quickly.

Unalaska police got in touch with the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. Bird TLC treats hundreds of birds, many of them eagles, from around the state each year.

The eaglet flew out that same evening — on a PenAir flight, for free. Since then, the bird has been recuperating at Bird TLC. Heather Merewood is executive director there.

“Your eaglet is doing very well. He’s eating very well. He’s — well, he or she, we can’t quite tell yet — we kind of made a little nest for him out of half of a kennel and some blankets and some branches and leaves and things like that.”

Merewood says they usually treat eaglets that have been injured in a fall from a nest. But she says Unalaska’s eaglet seems to be healthy. It’s only a few weeks old, and still needs help with its food.

“He’s of the age where he’d be completely reliant on his parents to defend himself, and he’s just learning the world, and he doesn’t know to be afraid of humans yet.”

But they’re trying to keep the eaglet from getting too used to life in captivity. In fact, Merewood says they’re hoping to get the baby adopted by a family of wild eagles.

“If we can find a nest that just has one other baby in it that’s around three weeks as well, then there’s a good chance.”

It’s something Bird TLC has done successfully in the past. Once they find a suitable, accessible nest in the Anchorage area, all they have to do is put the eaglet inside with the other baby.

“The great thing is birds can’t count,” Merewood laughs. “So they will adopt and will take care of him.”

If they can’t find a home for the eaglet in the wild, Merewood says they’ll raise it at their center. The bird will be a fully-fledged juvenile in about a month, and will start flying soon after that. If the eaglet sticks around, Merewood says they’ll probably name it. For now, they’re calling it by its intake number — or sometimes “Baby” for short.

 

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