Flatwoods Eagle, Flat Out

Peace River Wildlife Center has been abuzz with a recent bald eagle patient this past week. One of our long standing volunteers, Barb Taylor, participated in a rescue class a few weeks ago and got to put her newfound skills to the test. Her first rescue was a fuzzy baby duck, and while cute, was not exactly a challenge. Barb’s second rescue presented itself while she was on a Sierra Club hike. Deep into the trails of Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park, she found a bald eagle lying face down in the dirt of the path. Thinking it was dead, she was startled to see the shallow rise and fall of its chest as it struggled to breathe. Barb ran back to her car and retrieved her rescue gear, got the eagle loaded into a kennel, and brought it into PRWC.

At PRWC we examined the eagle—an approximately 3-4-year-old female. She was barely conscious but reacted when handled. She flailed her wings and stabbed at us with her talons, but even these efforts were slow and weak. Ascertaining that there were no injuries that demanded our immediate attention, we placed her in a quiet cage in our surgery suite and let her recover from the stress of the capture, transport and exam. Checking on her every few minutes, our rehabbers reported she went from lying on her face, to standing with her head down, to perching within the first 24 hours. By the next day she was placed in an outdoor woodflight cage. Her swift recovery continued as she made it clear she was quite ready to be released.

The morning of the third day after the eagle’s rescue, Barb and I met with the park employees and interested media back out at Flatwoods Park to release the recovered bird. She flew away strong and straight, eager to get away from our ministrations. It’s hard to say what happened to this majestic bird. She may have had very slight head trauma after colliding with something or she may have ingested a toxin from the nearby landfill either directly or via a poisoned mouse or rat. We will never know what may have happened, but we do know one thing for sure—this bird would not have survived without the help of one woman who found her in the woods, one small organization that treats injured wildlife, and a compassionate community that supports PRWC’s efforts through cash donations and gifts-in-kind contributions.

This weekend November 7, 8 & 9 PRWC will be having one of its annual garage sales at Sun Flea Market in Port Charlotte across from Target. Our regular Charity Thrift Store booths will be brimming with treasures and some of our resident birds will be making special guest appearances. If you have items to donate for the sale or need additional information, call 941-637-3830.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM

Flatwoods eagle recovering in cage.
Flatwoods eagle recovering in cage.
Eagle perching in outdoor cage.
Eagle perching in outdoor cage.
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