Original article posted October 29, 2017 in the Bowling Green Independent News -Jan Larson McLaughlin
This bald eagle doesn’t look very proud. She just looks pissed.
The injured bald eagle, found east of Bowling Green along the Portage River, is at Nature’s Nursery near Whitehouse, recovering from a chest wound and a drooping wing.
The mature female eagle is being given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds to help her recover, said Nature’s Nursery Executive Director Steve Kiessling.
The cause of the injuries is unknown – but the eagle’s attitude is a promising sign, he said.
“We want her mad,” Kiessling said. “She’s very feisty. We like it that she’s not docile. They are wild. We want them to be wild and nasty.”
The eagle is currently living in a large windowed closet at the wildlife recovery center. Her floor is scattered with half-eaten rats and fresh walleye. A restaurant, called Local Thyme, has donated 20 pounds of walleye, and promises to keep the fish coming as long as the eagle is at the center.
“We try to give them a natural diet as best as we can,” Kiessling said.
The bald eagle stands about 2-feet tall, has a wing span of about 5 feet, and weighs about 11 pounds. The staff knows she is a mature adult because bald eagles don’t get their white heads until after age 3. Her talons and beak are long, sharp and in working condition.
“The staff has to wear heavy duty gloves for giving meds,” Kiessling said.
The eagle is likely to remain in the closet for another three to four weeks, then move to an outdoor cage where it will be less stressful and there are perches of various heights so she can work on moving about. Then she will be transferred to a flight cage to build up strength and be given live mice for meals.
“If they can’t catch live food, then they die,” Kiessling said.
If she recovers well enough, the eagle will be taken back as close as possible to the area where she was found. “I’m assuming she has a nest somewhere,” he said.
Bald eagles are still on the protected species list and are federally protected, so they cannot be hunted. This eagle was found along the river by a man who noticed her struggling with injuries. He captured her himself, Kiessling said.
“We don’t encourage people to do that,” he said.
Nature’s Nursery prefers that people call first, and let the staff pick up the animals. In most cases, though, the wildlife should just be left alone. It’s a standing joke at Nature’s Nursery that the wildlife hotline should be answered with “Hi, this is Steve. Put it back.”
“Most people think they are doing the right thing,” Kiessling said.
But baby squirrels that fall out of the nest will be OK. “Leave them alone, mom will come and get them.”
People call in concerned that they haven’t seen a mother rabbit tending to the babies. They are advised that the mom wants it that way.
And yes, it’s a fallacy that wildlife abandons their young if the babies have been touched by humans, Kiessling stressed.
Nature’s Nursery is on its way to setting a record this year for the number of injured animals taken in. The facility averages 2,500 a year, but is likely to hit 2,800 this year.
The bald eagle is sharing her home with several rowdy squirrels, shy opossums, turtles with cracked shells and injured songbirds. Her temporary housemates include long-timers Mary Lou the crow, Einstein the screech owl, Zipper the corn snake, Peggy the tree frog, Lorraine the opossum and Boomerang the night hawk that keeps coming back.
At the busiest times of the year, there may be 300 animals sharing the house at Nature’s Nursery. And that means lots of mice and giant tubs of squirming meal worms for dinners.
The demands on staff and volunteers are quite demanding. Workers often take home creatures, such as baby birds which have to be fed every three hours, Kiessling said.
And the costs for medication are steep. Anyone wanting to donate to Nature’s Nursery may go to the center’s website and hit the “donate” button or go to the group’s Amazon wish list.