Thursday, December 27, 2018 dead Bald Eagle

Seward, Alaska

I received a very sad report just before noon today about a dead adult BALD EAGLE found near the waterfront just south of the Scheffler Creek bridge. When I arrived, I found the magnificent Eagle lying on her back on a snow bank next to the icy pavement, her head twisted at an awkward angle with an obvious impact mark on her breast feathers.

A short distance away were the treacherous power lines that she did not see on this gray, overcast day as she flew powerfully towards her goal. Just as people smack into invisible glass doors at walking speed and are knocked back unconscious, I believe she hit those invisible lines, was thrown backwards and off balance, and fell to the hard ground where she broke her beautiful neck.

I gently lifted her enormous wing to see her head. The fierce pale yellow eye glared blindly, so fresh and still commanding. Her massive beak would never again open, her wild voice never again echoing off the mountainside. Her huge, impressive, scaly golden claws tipped with sharp black talons remained tightly clenched as in flight, never again to stretch out to snatch a fish out of the bay.

Nearby in a small cottonwood tree, a juvenile Bald Eagle and a male adult Bald Eagle perched quietly, possibly wondering why mom lay so still and did not join them. That was particularly heart-wrenching.

I guarded the fallen Eagle from disturbance until the City Electric staff showed up. Whenever there is a chance that a federally protected bird has been injured or killed by power lines, the electric department is supposed to document the scene, the illegal “take”, and submit a lengthy report to US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Alaska Sealife Center is on call to respond to such incidents and is permitted take possession of the bird for examination and a further report. I was not able to stay until they arrived and have not yet received any updates.

In the unfortunate event that you discover a dead Eagle, Swan, or other federally protected bird, leave it in place. Call the Seward Police Dispatch at 907-224-3338. They should then contact the City Electric Department if power lines are a suspected cause, and the Alaska Sealife Center at 888-774-7325. If you can, wait for the officials to arrive, to protect the bird and provide information. Take photos for documentation in case they are needed.

The only positive consequence of this tragic death would be the installation of bird deflectors on these power lines to help prevent future collisions. I am hopeful that the city electric department will be able to do this soon.

Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment