HILDEN, N.S. – A high level rescue, a stay at university, a ferry ride and a live online presence have all been part of one feathered youngster’s first few weeks of life.
An eaglet was recently removed from a life-threatening situation in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., and is now being cared for at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (CWRC) in Hilden, N.S.
“The bird has had a bit of a rough week but seems quite content,” said Murdo Messer, co-founder of the CWRC. “I built a nest, which the eaglet has settled into.”
The young eagle was in a nest about 25-metres above ground in a Maritime Electric transmission tower in Borden-Carleton. The location of the nest was causing power outages and there was danger of fire breaking out or the birds being electrocuted.
Maritime Electric brought in a boom truck and Dr. Dave McRurer, wildlife health specialist with Parks Canada and adjunct professor with the Atlantic Veterinary College, went up to capture the eaglet.
“It was pretty interesting to see,” said Messer. “It was complicated because of the location. Nests are usually on top but this one was in a section of the tower so there wasn’t a lot of space to manoeuvre. There was a bit of breath-holding as Dave reached in and netted the bird.”
The eaglet, a female, was quite calm throughout most of the adventure. She was taken to the veterinary college for a couple of days to be assessed and then Brenda Boates, a rehabber at the CWRC, brought her to Nova Scotia on June 23.
“I had such mixed emotions,” said Boates. “The last thing we want to do is take her from her family, but the level of electrocution to all three eagles was high if they remained at the nest. When I saw her, it kind of brought me to tears. She seemed very calm, but vulnerable at the same time. She’s the youngest one I’ve seen but she was still bigger than I thought she would be, and she’s very fluffy.”
The eaglet weighed 4.4 kilograms when she arrived and hasn’t left her nest. Although the animals at the centre usually aren’t given names, she was listed as Borden on her intake sheet.
“She stands and flaps her wings, and likes to play with sticks,” said Boates. “She has to be fed three times a day. She’s eating fish and I break it up to make it look the way it would when presented by parents.
“She’s showing natural behaviours like standing and hissing and opening her wings when she sees me. I keep my back to her as much as possible to avoid her seeing a human coming toward her.”
The eaglet has her own enclosure inside the flight centre, where she can see – and be seen by – the two eagles in the flyway.
“They’re interested in her,” said Boates. “They usually sit where they can see her and when I go out of sight it’ll be quiet for a moment, and then she starts chattering and the others respond.”
Once the eaglet is older, she will be released into the flyway with the others
She will eventually be released into the wild in the Borden-Carleton area.
“It was difficult, but this is the best possible scenario for the birds,” said Messer. “If we’d left the eaglet in the nest and something happened we would have felt terrible.”
Any donations to help with the care of the eaglet, and the other animals at the centre, are appreciated.
Information on how to help and a live webcam of the eaglet can be found on the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre website.