Arrival of young skinny eagle

This young golden eagle ended up in the backyard of a falconer. She was thin and weak after getting separated from her parents. The Falconer caught her and temporarily cared for her until Martin could come pick her up.

Martin gave her an exam and found no additional problems. Expecting a quick easy stay to give her time to regain weight and recover, he put her the large chamber with two other eagles.

There are certain behaviors Martin looks for to know when an eagle is ready for release. As of yet, she is not quite there. So she will stay a little longer until Martin is confident she is 100% physically fit and ready to start her second chance in the wild.

Questions about Eagles? See our FAQ:

Questions about Eagles (FAQ)

Eagle So Stuffed Full She Can’t Fly!

On August 11th, Martin received a call about a Golden Eagle behaving oddly. He and Susan went out to check on the eagle. Upon arrival, the homeowner pointed them in the right direction, then Martin and his net went in after the eagle.

After stirring the eagle from the top of a building, the eagle did glide down a short distance. Martin followed and with a good run, manage to capture the eagle which stayed on the ground.

On first examination, and seeing the size of the eagle’s crop, Martin was pleased. The huge crop meant the eagle had simply eaten too much to fly and was otherwise healthy.

After more of an examination and confirmation of a healthy young eagle, Martin got permission to release the eagle in a safe, shaded, rural area. All the eagle needed was time in a safe place to digest her huge meal.

Martin also reminded people to “Slow Down For Eagles”. They often eat road kill, so if you see them ahead of you on the road in rural or wilderness areas, slow down! Eagles are big and heavy and can’t quickly get out of the way. If they have eaten a huge meal, they can’t even fly.

Please click here to learn more about “Slow Down For Eagles“.

Young Golden Eagle Separated from Parents

On July 14th, 2018, Martin received a call about a Golden Eagle. He was led to the area by some people riding motorcycles then took off on foot in search of the eagle. With his net in hand, Martin surveyed the area and in just a few moments, caught sight of the Golden Eagle. He ran a bit to catch up and angle in, before the last dash in high gear to capture the bird.

On first inspection, Martin saw the eagle was very skinny and very young. He determined the eagle was a very young one, probably not long out the nest, that somehow got separated from his parents.

Martin brought the eagle back to the rescue center and immediately gave him a good meal and plenty of fluids loaded with nutrients. Once fed, the eagle was put into our largest chamber and left alone to begin to his recovery.

This eagle stayed nearly 6 weeks, gaining weight and growing stronger. On August 23rd he was released back to the wild where he belongs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did Martin know the parents weren’t around?
Martin tracks all the nests in the area and knows mating and breeding time periods. From his knowledge of the area and nest as well as examination of the young eagle, Martin knew the eagle had gotten separated from the parents.

How old was the eagle?
Two and half to three months old, just out of the nest, probably 3 or 4 weeks.

Why did the eagle have to be taken back to the rescue center?
He was really, really skinny and needed care to regain health and proper weight. Even another day alone, he would have died. Life in the wild is not easy and eagles need to be in top physical shape to survive.

Why didn’t the eagle bite Martin?
The eagle very easily could have bitten Martin, even as weak as he was. Martin has been working with critters over 50 years and knows how to handle them. Nonetheless, he always takes much care and caution for the benefit of both the eagle and himself!

Why is the eagle so calm and tame?
This eagle was very thin, starved and weak. Generally, any time a wild animal acts tame, they are very sick.

Does the eagle know Martin is helping him?
The eagle has an instinctual fear of humans. Captivity is very stressful for them. All they want is to get away from him and back into the wild.

How does Martin know if the eagle is male or female?
He can’t know for absolute certain without a blood test, and sometimes, especially when they are so thin, it is hard to know. Mostly, females are larger than males. After 50 years of working with critters, Martin has a pretty good eye for noticing size differences. However, there is still some gray area between a smaller female and larger male. It does not effect their treatment though, so Martin does not subject them to a blood test which would cause added stress.

What was the eagle fed?
The eagle was fed differently throughout his stay. On arrival, the key was to get fluid and nutrients into him as soon as possible. Martin uses a special mix as well as some small mice. Martin usually only has to force feed them a few days until they have the strength to feed themselves. It is sometimes difficult to get them to eat while in captivity. As the eagle recovers, the food changes. They get a natural diet of mice, quail and jackrabbits. They are given the whole animal, not just meat, as they need all the parts of the animals.

Do eagles need water?
Eagles get most of the water they need from the food they consume. They can also find water in wild at lakes, streams, puddles and such. Fresh water is always available for them at our rescue center.

Did you name the eagle?
We do not name rehab animals. They are wild and need to stay that way. Once they are able to feed themselves, they are left alone as much as possible. Martin tosses in food and only enters when he has to examine them, move them, or clean the area.

Was the eagle taught how to hunt?
This eagle was given some live animals in order to learn how to kill and how to feed himself. Hunting is partly instinctual and partly learned. All eagles have to get it figured out through experience as they only spend a very short amount of time with their parents once they leave the nest.

Why wasn’t the eagle released where he was found?
Martin released the eagle in safe central area. This location allows the eagle time to orient himself. Since they fly, distance isn’t a big issue. They are released well fed with a full crop that will give them a few weeks to find their next meal.

What will the eagle do without his parents around?
This eagle would not have been around his parents much longer. Once they reach a certain age, the parents leave them on their own.

Will the eagle ever find his parents?
If the eagle did, the parents would drive him out of their territory. Shortly after they leave, the young eagles are on their own, this is why 80% don’t survive the first year.

How will the eagle survive on his own?
All birds of prey face a very tough learning curve, 80% don’t make it past their first year. They are not with their parents very long after they leave the nest. They rely primarily on their instincts and learning things from experience.

Will you track the eagle?
We are not permitted to tag rehab animals. There are special circumstances to tag animals, but to track every animal we see would get quite costly and labor intensive.

Has the eagle come back?
If he comes back, something has been done wrong, the eagle should not be bonded to Martin for food.

What do you do if you see an injured eagle?
It is best not to approach the eagle. Take note of the surroundings and location and call police dispatch, not 911, or local fish and game. They can send someone out to care for the eagle. To learn more, please visit our guide “How to Help Wild Animals”.

For more questions and answers about eagles, please see our FAQ here.


Slow Down For Eagles


Download Infographic (1000×1000 .jpg)
  • Though outstanding hunters, Eagles have a very high failure rate
    Eagles are very big with a wide wing span. Bigger is not always better when it comes to hunting. A smaller lighter male eagle can often have the edge over a larger heavier female eagle. For all their skills and amazing physical prowess, it usually takes many, many unsuccessful attempts before they finally capture their prey. Their hunts take longer and exert great energy, but their larger prey provides a meal that lasts them longer as well. They do not need to eat daily.
  • Combined with shrinking habitats, they often feast on roadkill.
    It takes a lot of effort to hunt for food especially in a limited habitat among much competition and obstructions. Roadkill is a lot easier to hunt. Eagles are opportunistic predators, they will take what they can get with the least amount of energy expended.

An Eagle with Full Crop


Download Flyer (8.5×11 .pdf)
  • A large meal increases the weight of Eagle
    Just as a pilot must track and balance weight on an airplane, so do birds. Their flight is dependent on a healthy weight and incredible physical fitness. It does not take much weight to throw off their optimal weight and balance for flight.
  • Extra weight creates added difficulty to resume flight and return to cover
    A large meal can weigh down a bird considerably. Not only does the added weight from a big meal make flying harder, it also lessens their incentive for flight. Already satiated, their will and attitude to work for food drops.

Eagles Are Large

  • Please slow down as a large, heavy Eagle needs time and distance to get off the road
    If you see birds, even smaller ones in the road, it is a good idea to slow down. If there are many birds eating roadkill, it may not be possible to see an eagle among them until it is too late.
  • Unlike smaller birds, Eagles cannot dart away from vehicles.
    For those in urban areas, you may be used to just driving along with birds in front of you in the road because most smaller ones are able to get out of the way. Small birds with small wing spans can flap away quickly. A Eagle and some other larger birds cannot. While driving in wildlife areas, please keep an eye out for objects in the road and slow down in order to better evaluate the situation and act accordingly.

Download Educational Materials

Evicting Eagles for Chamber Maintenance

For quite awhile, we’ve needed to fix the roof of the large flight chamber. Unfortunately, at the time when the repairs could finally be made, we had three eagles in the chamber plus Scout in the one next to it. So Martin had to disturb them in order to temporarily relocate them to another chamber so repairs and upgrades could be made.

The large flight chamber got a new roof and the smaller chambers got new foundations. It was done by Boy Scouts as an Eagle Scout Project. The Eagle Scout organized and coordinated everything, bringing a team of helpers who worked all day to get everything done. Big thanks to the scouts who did a fantastic job!

This video also includes some snippets of Martin during his daily routine of checking on all the birds.

Rescued Rare White Belly Bald Eagle

This juvenile Bald Eagle arrived on July 26th after we were called by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The eagle was near his nesting area but not flying, skinny, and having difficulties.

Upon initial examination, Martin noted that this was quite a rare “white belly” Bald Eagle. Usually, juvenile bald eagles are mostly brown, this one is unusually white. Because of poor nutrition however, the eagles feathers were in very bad shape. Though physically fine, the poor condition of the feathers made the bird unable to fly.

The juvenile Bald Eagle first got a big meal and plenty of nutrients. For the first couple days, Martin fed the bird to make sure he got enough nutrients. After only a few days, the eagle was able to feed himself. Martin then moved the eagle to the large chamber with a young rehabilitating Golden Eagle.

Most likely, this juvenile Bald Eagle will have to stay for a year or more until new feathers grow in properly. Such a long stay is also an expensive stay. If you would like to help us feed this young eagle, please consider sending Rodent Pro Gift Certificates.

Golden Eagle Perched in the front yard

Some excerpts from Scout’s photoshoot when the webgeek was in town. Martin graciously brought Scout out in front in good light and provided photography tips to allow for many photos to share with everyone. Scout graciously did not eat the webgeek.

Live Q&A with Scout the Golden Eagle

In honor of Scout’s thirteenth anniversary, we streamed a live Q & A with he and Martin. They answered questions sent in previously as well as as many questions as they could that were asked during the livestream. Questions were about Scout, Scout & Martin, other eagles and falconry.

1:00 – Intro & About Scout and Martin
3:07 – Scout in the house
3:50 – What is the largest prey Scout can catch?
4:40 – Is falconry in decline?
6:00 – What does Scout eat?
6:40 – What is it about Golden Eagles that makes them not the best hunters?
7:40 – Why is Scout’s mouth open?
8:10 – Do they have rabies?
8:40 – How old is Scout? How long will he live in captivity vs the wild?
9:00 – What is the wingspan? How much do they eat per day? How fast can they fly?
9:50 – How many eggs do they lay?
10:21 – How many chicks make it to adulthood?
12:01 – What is the difference between Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles?
13:56 – Are Golden Eagles an endangered species?
14:30 – Do you go hunting with Scout?
15:00 – Do you see many eagles’ nest? Do they keep the same one a long time?
16:20 – Have you ever had a Bald Eagle as an ambassador? Is that allowed for someone like you?
18:00 – Why is he named Scout?
21:20 – Are eagles affectionate with their mates?
22:50 – Reintroduction and info about Scout for late arrivers
29:00 – Can you explain how three Bald Eagle nests and one Bald Eagle nest have been discovered to raise a Red Tail Hawk baby?
31:00 – Are male or female eagles more aggressive?
32:10 – Is a Harris Hawk the best beginning bird for falconry?
34:30 – How long did it take for Scout to warm up to you?
36:10 – How much damage can an eagle’s beak do? Does it only cut or does it crush as well?
39:40 – What if you walk by an eagle’s nest without knowing?
42:10 – Has Scout tried to preen you?
44:30 – During cold weather does Scout come inside?
45:35 – Will he ever mate, does he go through hormone shifts? 47:30 – Has Scout ever got into a tussle with another wild animal?
48:50 – Does anybody else handle Scout? 49:50 – What is his sense of smell?
51:00 – What is the courting process for eagles?
53:00 – Will eagles really not mate again if their mate dies?
54:00 – What type of birds are Osprey compared to eagles and hawks?
55:20 – Do fledged eagles ever come back to the nest and are they tolerated by their parents?
56:20 – How often do you get to spend quality time with Scout?
57:20 – Does the male Golden Eagle help incubate the eggs like bald eagles do?

Golden Eagle Release, Winners & Thanks!

This Golden Eagle was hit by a car and had some neurological issues. After a couple months stay, the eagle recovered and was released by a big supporter of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, Dave Gourley, of Findlay Subaru of St. George.

This video also announces the winners of our Gorillapod Contest and shows the arrival of boxes and boxes of donations!

Questions about Eagles, Scout & Martin

Questions in this video

0:00-3:24 – About Scout the Golden Eagle
3:24 – Why are they called Golden Eagles?
3:41 – Do you bathe him? Does he bathe?
4:09 – How big are males and females?
4:29 – How much does he eat?
4:50 – Does he lose feathers? What do you do with them?
5:27 – How did you get Scout?
5:57 – What are the differences between male and female?
6:22 – When they mate, do they stay together all the time?
6:49 – What is their lifespan?
7:12 – How long did it take you to establish your relationship with Scout?
9:42 – Do you work with Owls?
10:02 – Does he have problems with feather growth?
11:44 – Why would a bird always have one feather missing?
12:30 – Do Eagles have problems with Ravens?
13:29 – Why doesn’t Martin wear gloves?