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March 2, 2010: Bald Eagles in the News

by Bob Sallinger

kgw.com

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 7:36 AM

There have been lots of bald eagle stories in the news lately. Last week a bald eagle crashed into the side of a house in North Portland. The owners were home at the time of the incident and heard a crash that rattles the house. When they went outside to see what had happened they found an adult bald eagle hopping around in their yard. By the time volunteers arrived to help, the bird had disappeared. Hopefully it recovered and flew away.

 On Sunday another bald eagle was found in Lake Oswego suffering from injuries sustained in a territorial dispute with another eagle. The eagle was captured by State Police and transferred to Audubon's Wildlife Care Center where it is recovering from significant puncture wounds.

 Territorial disputes between eagles are not uncommon.  The aerial combat can be quite fierce. Two years ago Audubon was called out to the University of Portland ago two eagles locked their talons into each others legs in mid air and crashed into the ground. One eagle was killed on contact while the other spent weeks at Audubon recovering from its injuries before being set free.

 One of the most weirdest things I have seen was two eagles that locked their talons into in mid air and wound-up hanging upside down from a branch 100 feet off the ground near Pier Park . The eagles hung there for more than two hours while a crowd assembled far below. They periodically struggles but seemed unable to disengage from one another. It was only when a fire truck was finally called and I approached on a ladder that they finally broke free, plummeted upside down towards the ground---both caught air just before crashing and flying off.

 The sight of eagles in our urban skies is an amazing thing. Bald Eagles were listed under the Endangered Species Act from the early 1970s until 2007. Along with Peregrines and Osprey, eagles populations were driven downward by the effects of DDT. Thanks to the ESA listing and the banning of DDT in 1972, we can now see nesting eagles at places like Ross Island, Elk Rock Island, West Hayden Island. Sauvie Island and Smith and Bybee Lakes.

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