With Pacific Coastal Airlines suspending service for a period of time earlier this year, PROWLS president Merrilee Prior worked rapidly with the airline to get as many of PROWLS’ birds back as possible. At the top of the list was a Savary Island eaglet from last summer.
She had broken her wing in two places when she fell from the nest and it had already set by the time she arrived at PROWLS.
After specialized care at Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Delta, flying was difficult, but this young eaglet finally decided it was easier to fly on her own than be chased by a determined rehabber.
After seven and a half months she arrived back in Powell River along with a saw-whet owl. It was a bumpy barge trip to Savary and the young eagle needed a little encouragement to come out, and then she was off.
She flew steadily along the beach, looking around as she went. A good 200 metres down the beach, she swerved out and landed in the water for the first time in her life.
Floating, spreadeagled and with her head up, she was very confused. “She’s drowning!” one of the original rescuers called out.
Merrilee leapt from the barge in full lifeguard mode and ran down the beach, throwing her heavy clothes off as she went, preparing to enter the water and save the eaglet again. The barge came around behind the eaglet to grab it if possible but ran aground before reaching it.
Off went the rest of Merrilee’s outer clothes and she plunged into the water. The eaglet strongly resisted rescue, striking out angrily and fiercely at the now defenceless Merrilee, who managed to catch and place her back in the kennel in the sun to dry off.
Everyone brought Merrilee her clothes and she dried off while consulting with OWL on the phone. Then the eaglet was taken in the kennel a little way from the beach to a sunny, open area and was released again to start anew.
She explored the grass, wandering a short distance away (a new experience, having been in cages almost her entire life), and then flew up into a tall fir, where she assumed the drying eagle pose and sat in the sun.
Merrilee applied a few bandages to her wounds. All’s well that ends well.