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
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- 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
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- 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.