Juvenile bald eagle needs funds to fly.
Recently in The Vicksburg Post was an article about a Warren County resident bald eagle needing a bit of financial help in order to fly again.
Plans are to create a 20-by-50-foot cage in an unused outdoor storage space on the grounds of the Old Court House Museum. Pledges to donate labor, materials and half the costs have been made in hopes the larger enclosure will be followed by the eagle, now in a smaller cage, regrowing flight feathers and a tail and becoming strong enough to be freed.
Gilbert Rose, president of Tara Wildlife, a large preserve between Eagle Lake and the Mississippi River, brought the bird to Vicksburg in August after finding it unable to fly and being fed by fishermen.
“The eagle was very malnourished. It couldn’t sustain flight,” Rose said. “It wouldn’t have survived much longer in the wild.”
With an average lifespan of 20 years, bald eagles live near water because their diet depends greatly on fish. The protected species made a return to the region about 25 years ago and nesting sites were spotted near Warren County’s largest lake, named for its shape, not for the birds.
Soon after capture, the eagle spent two weeks at Louisiana State University School of Veterinarian Medicine getting X-rays, blood work and CAT scans, said Becki Bolm, rehabber for Mississippi Wildlife Rescue and Rehab.
“They (LSU staff) are the best, and they have no clue why this bird did not have a tail,” said Bolm, adding not having a tail eliminated the animal’s ability to fly and find prey.
Since being in Vicksburg, the eagle, believed to be a 2-year-old female, has begun to grow a tail and has shown signs of better health, Bolm said, adding she expects the tail to be fully replenished in five months.
“She’s going to be releasable. There’s no doubt. She’s too healthy. Her feathers look too good,” Bolm said.
Before setting the animal free, Bolm said she will study how well the eagle can fly in the new cage.
“She’s going to be so happy in this cage. It’s way overdue,” she said.
While she would prefer an 80-by-100-foot L-shaped cage, Bolm said plans were trimmed to match a projected cost of $3,000 to $4,000. Tara Wildlife has agreed to match donated funds “dollar for dollar,” Bolm said.
Construction on the cage began this past Monday and will be completed after wiring has been attached to the existing frame with clamps, said Joe Bonelli, a construction company owner who volunteered his efforts. “Ms. Bolm said she needed help. We try to do what we can,” said Bonelli.
There are strict regulations and protocols for wildlife rehabilitation. If the bird cannot be returned to the wild, she will become “an educational bird.” Until a decision is made, viewing is prohibited by law in order to limit contact with humans.
An adult female bald eagle’s body varies from 35 to 37 inches in length with a wingspan of 79 to 90 inches. Bolm said the injured eagle is about 30 inches with a wingspan of 72 inches. A juvenile bald eagle, which has no white feathers, is often confused with a golden eagle. They can be distinguished by their legs, which are covered with feathers on a golden eagle and bare on a bald eagle.
Bolm has multiple certifications in wildlife rehabilitation. She cares for about 150 animals per year and her 15-year tenure includes songbirds, skunk babies, beavers, coyotes and deer. The bird from Tara is her third eagle. (Tish Butts at firstname.lastname@example.org)