More Wild Things at Angle Lake

Sunday night as my wife and I were starting to settle into our usual end of weekend routine, she on the bed with her book in hand and me planted on my man-chair poised with the remote in hand ready to tune into the latest news, our neighbor from a couple lots over came to our back door distraught and asking for help.  We invited her to come in and after a couple minutes catching her breath we were informed that there was a full grown, adult bald eagle that appeared to be injured and unable to fly.  Her request was for assistance in caging the animal so that she could bring it somewhere for medical attention.

When Julie and I arrived, it appeared mildly agitated with our approach but did not move. We quickly determined judging from the size and alertness of the bird clear that it was still quite able to cause some serious harm if handled and that allot more assistance would be needed to avoid additional injury to the animal, let alone our selves!

A call was placed into King County dispatch and was informed that wildlife concerns are the responsibility of the Washington State Patrol and was then connected through. However, the WSP could only provide us a couple numbers to call which ultimately resulted in being greeted with phone recordings only... I called dispatch again requesting to be connected with SeaTac Fire and eventually they dispatched the Battalion Chief to the site.  After assessing the situation and a couple more calls to wildlife experts it was determined that our best approach would be to leave the bird in place, recheck it in the morning and to retry the assistance numbers again if the situation had not changed.

The next morning at dawn I returned to the site to discover the bird was gone!  I returned at day break and did not detect any disturbance in the landscaping that would indicate a struggle, nor were any feathers or such found in the area to warrant concern for a misfortunate encounter with raccoon or coyote… it was just gone. 

Later that day, I received a call from a Sarvey Wildlife Organization Director and was able to describe my experience to her.  Possible causes could have been an encounter with a building or tall object that stunned the bird (in my opinion, not likely in this case), could be a mild poisoning (please do not use poisons for rodent control), or as I was surprised to learn, it is not an uncommon occurrence for an Eagle to overeat and become temporarily unable to fly!  I was informed that Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife get calls all the time about eagles that eat too much and can’t fly for 2-3 days. Even though an average American Bald Eagle wingspan can measure up to seven and a half feet (90 inches) their lifting power is only about 4 pounds. 

According to the chart above, an 18” Triploid Rainbow Trout would weigh an average of 2.5 lbs. Consuming just two fish in a short span could easily put the bird at over capacity, leading me to believe that a case of over consumption is the most likely root cause for the bird’s distress last night and the explanation for its mysterious disappearance the next morning.

Although it was difficult to accept the night before that our only resolve was to walk away and wait until the morning, in this particular case it turned out to be the best choice and proved that wild animals  don’t always need our help and it’s generally best to let wild things in nature take care of themselves.

1 comment:

LPG said...

Great information Fuzz. Let's just hope that it was simply a case of one of our favorite wildlife inhabitants overindulging in our scrumptious Angle Lake Buffet, but what an awesome opportunity to see one of these magnificiant birds up close.
Another great post Fuzz.