Saturday, February 22, 2014

Look! Up in the Trees!

 One of my most fascinating wildlife encounters happened to me this past weekend.

I was picking up refuse on the World Bird Sanctuary exhibit line and I could see in the distance there was a large crowd forming in the middle of our paved trail.  Everyone had their cameras out and I figured they had spotted a Bald Eagle, but I never would have imagined what I encountered next.
McGwire, one of our resident Bald Eagles (photo by Adam Triska)

At the sanctuary we have many permanent Bald Eagle residents who have debilitating wing injuries that render them unable to fly.  Two of the enclosures that house Bald Eagles with wing injuries have open tops, and the wild population of Bald Eagles has become fully aware of this.  I looked up and not even 25 feet from the ground was a juvenile Bald Eagle perched on a branch!  I quickly recognized the individual as one of the local Bald Eagles who hangs out looking for an easy meal.  The bird was completely relaxed with probably 35 to 40 people standing underneath it.  The bird at one point locked eyes with me and you could see in its eyes that it didn't have any qualms with even the loudest child.

As I was taking questions and explaining the situation I noticed that the Bald Eagle was preparing to relieve itself and in the path of the “relief” was a young girl!  I quickly shouted to warn her of the danger soon headed her way.  She looked up and looked back at me before retreating to safety. 

Seconds after she had scampered away a huge line of poo painted the road where she was standing just seconds before!  Predictably the crowd was split with their reaction, a portion laughed while the rest were grossed out.

After lightening the load the bird had had enough glamour time and took to the air.  It launched itself from the tree and then dropped to about 10-15 feet from the ground, spread its wings, coasted for 50 feet or so and shot back up to a high branch in an old oak tree.

It’s memories and moments such as the one described above that remind me how lucky I am to work at the World Bird Sanctuary.

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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