Updated: The ‘road’ less traveled did make all the difference…for these two bald eagles

*Click on any photo to see it full size

Sometimes, the road less traveled really does make all the difference… and today it helped save two bald eagles in Delta.

Wanting to get a walk in before the rain forecast this afternoon arrived,we headed off to the Delta Watershed. Normally when we go, we have a particular series of trails that we stick to, but this time we ended up on a not very well used trail on the high side of the ravine above one of the streams in the park.

We have never been on this trail before,and it was more than a bit dodgy at times….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we forged on because the scenery along this trail was really stunning…

Tall towering trees, and younger ones like this one growing off the stumps of giants long gone and toppled. It’s a magical part of the trail system and off the beaten path entirely.

As we walked along,we heard the chattering of a small bird that sounded not unlike a chipmunk. Stopping to try and spot it, a wee bird ran along the ground and hopped up on a fallen tree chirping at us in a rather insistent matter. It kept coming closer and since we had nothing to offer it we moved along.. and the little bird flew after us and again, landed and started started chattering at us.

It was then, just a few steps down the path, we heard a strange noise,a rustling and then a beating sound, but very quiet. Not seeing anything but curious, we moved over to where the sound had come from … and spotted something amazing.

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The eagle on the far right, was suffering from wounds to the back of his neck, clearly inflicted from the one staring at me. There was quite a bit of blood still flowing from the wounds as well.

The closer eagle appeared to have more superficial looking wounds to his wing and was far more active. I called a friend to get the number to OWL Wildlife Rescue that specializes in raptors, we called and they sent two people immediately. Everyone left to meet the rescue team at the main lot which was quiet a distance from where we located the birds and I stayed behind to guard them from un-leashed dogs or any other threat.

It took only about thirty minutes for them to meet the crew at the main parking lot and be guided back down to where  I was with the eagles, and during that time the eagles were so amazingly calm and didn’t seem to mind my presence. Twice people with unleashed dogs went by though, and the sounds of dogs agitated the raptors so I took off my sweater and laid it over them to keep them calm.

After it was all over, we really just couldn’t believe everything that had happened! It’s still a bit surreal. That today of all days, we took a path we never have, heard that small bird and found the eagles under the thickness of this tree… it’s really amazing.

While we’ve always attended the OWL yearly open houses and supported the work of the amazing people who work and volunteer there, one never expects to be involved in a rescue like this firsthand – it’s hopefully a once in a lifetime experience because it’s  terrible seeing just majestic creatures injured. We learned that you can tell the age of an eagle by the ‘crackles’ in the yellow of their eyes- younger eagles have none, older ones eyes look like crackled glass. We also learned that they will fight to the death over territory and these two clearly intended to do just that.

The speed of which OWL responded and the dedication they show towards helping all these amazing raptors is so admirable – we have so much respect for what they do. I just called and spoke to Mindy, and both birds are in recovery for now, having both had a good amount of sutures. The bird Mindy is holding about also has a broken wrist, and may need more attention once he stabilizes.

We’re also very excited to hear that if and when they recover and are ready to release, we can be there and help do that – another once in a lifetime experience – so we are hoping and crossing our fingers for full recoveries for both!

OWL does not receive any government funding and relies entirely on public, corporate and private donations to operate. Having seen firsthand how much is involved in every single rescue,let alone the care and feeding after,shows me how much they really need our help to continue their good work .Check out their site here: http://www.owlcanada.org/aboutowl/ and you can donate through this link: http://www.owlcanada.org/you-can-help/donate/

They also have a wish list- if you can provide any of the following, please give them a call!

OWLwishlist

And of course, make sure to attend their Open House this year for tours,activities and an amazing learning experience!

OWLopenhouse

As for us?  Feeling blessed to have taken the road less traveled today. 😉

UPDATE April 23 2016

After a lengthy rehabilitation, I’m thrilled to let you know that both birds were released today at the OWL annual open house, which was a packed event! Vehicles lined the road to the facility in a stand still traffic jam and we nearly didn’t make it in time to see them go,running up the drive and arriving moments before the release.

One bird was a prior patient and was banded, the other is now banded as well in the event it is injured or captured for some other reason. One of the eagles had an older injury as well, the result of being shot with a pellet gun. His injury will never heal correctly but doesn’t hamper his ability to fly or otherwise survive in the wild.

I can’t even explain how thrilling it was to see both stunning birds fly overhead, free again at last – it brought some strong emotions to see them fly off into the wind,after finding them in such bloody and battered condition. And one of them even flew back over the crowd a few moments later as if to say goodbye 🙂

Here is some video of the release- the first is an explanation of how they came in and arrived and then both birds were released within 10 minutes of each other, in the videos that follow.

I encourage everyone to check out OWL, and always keep their wish list in mind if you can help out. They are serving not only local raptors, but those injured from all over the province. Donations of cash are always appreciated and very critical to their continued work of saving amazing birds of prey!

25 thoughts on “Updated: The ‘road’ less traveled did make all the difference…for these two bald eagles

    1. Laila

      No thanks- I only guarded them! Colin and Mindy from OWL did all the scary work involving talons and sharp beaks!!

      But it was a lesson in listening to the forest… 🙂 That little bird gets the credit for taking our attention that direction!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Good job. Good story. Good for OWL! And especially good for the eagles…..any theories for their plight? Any commendations to the little bird? This has Readers Digest written all over it. Drew Barrymore plays you in the Disney version.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laila

      Can’t say enough about OWL. As I mentioned, we’ve always supported their work and attended the open houses to see the birds they have helped and released -they do critical work – but to experience what they do firsthand from this perspective was a once in a lifetime event!

      Anyone who can help out with their wish list or donations of cash would be most appreciated by the amazing people who keep that place going!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – great story and great work by you and yours, and OWL too, Laila!

    Something is definitely going on, bald eagle wise…They were all over the beach down out at Iona this morning as well, kibbitzing and poking and pecking away at each other…I had to keep the wee Whackadoodle leashed to keep them from making mincemeat out of her.

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila

      The eagles seem to be no longer going to winter in other areas RossK- very few in Squamish like there used to be. They feast on the Vancouver Landfill and you can see them all over in Delta along the SFPR.

      OWL has had several electrocutions this year and rescued a ton of birds so far. With so many more birds not leaving over winter, they may become inundated. I am thankful these were natural injuries as a result of their fighting, not human caused.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done, Laila. That wee chattering bird deserves kudos as well. Obviously a helpful little tattletale (or maybe tattletail).

    I drive the new SFPR frequently, and where it crosses #99 by the Vancouver landfill there are hundreds of bald eagles perched in the trees along the roadway. Not sure if they’ve always gathered there or if this is a recent development, but it sure is an impressive sight.

    We only let our Abyssinian cat out on a lead where we live on the bluff in Tsawwassen because of the eagles that are usually riding the thermals above our neighborhood. Some have come in for a real close look at her and the wingspan reminds me of a small Cessna. They’d probably prefer mincemeat made from fresh Whackadoodle, but you never know…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila

      Yes that little bird was amazing. And disappeared as soon as we found the eagles! There is one tree along the SFPR we call the Eagle condo…lol. we’ve seen up to 12 eagles or more in one tree.

      There have always been eagles that stayed behind, but as I wrote above more and more are staying here to winter instead of going to Harrison or Squamish.

      Incidentally, Nature of Things recently had a fabulous hour long documentary on the urban eagles showing many of these same areas. http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/eagles-next-door

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bernadette Keenan

    Stay away from the South Fraser Freeway as much as possible just on the principle of the thing, but I have been enjoying the eagles along River Road. Noticing there seem to be more than ever this year though.
    Good job Laila. What an adventure for you and your family! Eagles are wonderful birds and it is so good you were able to help these two.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Davies

    I’m a great believer in fate…it took you down that trail. What an amazing experience, these majestic creatures fascinate me and I still get a thrill whenever I see them having not seen one until we moved to Campbell River six years ago, we don’t have bald eagles in the UK and had only seen one in a zoo before many years ago. As for that little bird…..the intelligence of animals continues to gobsmack me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful story, Laila. It’s not often that we are blessed with the ability to help wildlife in distress. I too watched that documentary “Eagles Next Door” and was saddened to know the salmon runs have been depleted so much that the eagles are forced to scavenge in our landfills.

    Just another unfortunate result of globalization, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bernadette Keenan

    In light of recent campaign developments south of the border, wondering if this was some sort of foreshadowing with respect to the on going presidential election. It has many of the elements. A little noisy bird drawing attention… Battling eagles wounding themselves to the point of incapacitating themselves… Seriously maybe this tale means something on a deeper level than just wildlife rescue… 🙂 Those little birds are trying to tell us something important.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/03/26/tiny_bird_steals_the_show_at_bernie_sanders_rally_in_portland.html
    Hope everyone listens as well as you did Laila.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila Yuile

      Well we know the battling eagles isn’t anything unusual… they will fight to the death over territory/women I am told 😀

      Nature however can tell us many things if we pay attention. Ask a longtime hunter who pays attention to where the ravens or crow fly or circle.Or why the birds suddenly all go silent when a large predator is around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not a hunter myself, but being anywhere in nature long enough, quiet & listening – The birds tell me so much about what is going on. Also, The barn cats, my dogs, the coyotes in the fields hear a siren long b4 I do ‘yip yip’. Quiet my mind.. The animals know

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  8. Pingback: Sometimes, there are happy endings. – Laila Yuile on people, politics and life in B.C.

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