American Bald Eagle Rescue

By Wanda D’Agostino, CT Licensed Wildlife Rehabber

Well, it FINALLY happened! After being a wildlife rehabilitator for over 40 years, I got to rescue an American bald eagle.

When I got the call on Easter Saturday from a woman in Avon saying she had an injured eagle in her yard, I didn’t get too excited. I have had several people in the past swear they also had an eagle in their yard only to discover a large hawk in distress. However, when this caller said the large bird had a white head and tail, there was no doubt that it was a mature bald eagle.

To say I was excited was an understatement! I immediately called Tom Church, the very capable rehabber I had trained 3 years ago. Like me, Tom was more than eager to help in the rescue, so off we went.

Unable to fly, the eagle did the next best thing to avoid capture­—it tried to hide under a thick patch of pricker bushes. Tom and I both crawled in after it, and Tom was able to catch it.

A quick “on-the-spot” examination revealed a very skinny bird with a badly infected, swollen foot—a condition known as “bumblefoot.” We knew it needed immediate vet care and took it to the nearest care facility, Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton. From there, the eagle was transferred to “A Place Called Hope,” one of the top rehabilitation centers in the state.

I wish I could tell you that we got the “Easter miracle” we were all praying for, but unfortunately the beautiful bird died the next day. The band on its leg told us it was 17 years old—a good age for an eagle in the wild. The necropsy (animal autopsy) also revealed high levels of lead in his system and a scratched cornea.

Although my life would have been complete if I could have brought this magnificent eagle back to health and released it back to the wild, I will never forget the thrill I felt from holding it. Such power and beauty in my hands! I’ll never forget it.