Young bald eagle found in Metairie to be released this week

Don Ames
May 25, 2019 - 1:23 pm

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A juvenile bald eagle found soaked and stumping along a street in Metairie where it hatched will be released Tuesday in the same area. 

The bird's parents have nested for a couple of years in a tall live oak in the back yard of a Metairie home.

A neighborhood resident brought the mottled brown eaglet to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's Wildlife Hospital on May 11, after making sure it needed help. Another neighbor has been collecting money for its care and posting health updates outside her home.

A handwritten message on a paper grocery bag set over a signpost read, "Our Eagle is doing well and is flying. Thanks to all who donated to her recovery. YEA!" 

Bald eagles' first flights often leave the bird stranded on the ground, but their parents generally keep feeding them until they fly again.

This bird and its sibling began flying in late April, making regular flights to and from other trees and light poles in the neighborhood.

However, a neighbor saw this one walking in the street the evening of May 10. A driver spotted the eaglet, stopped traffic and shooed the bird to a yard.

Coastal consultant P.J. Hahn, who has been photographing the birds since the parents began building the nest, said he was called for advice when the eaglet was still in the street.

"Everyone was afraid to touch it" because of federal laws protecting raptors, said Hahn. 

He called the veterinary school, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and others, but it was Friday night and nobody was in. To protect the grounded bird from dogs, it was put it in a pet transportation crate overnight. When they let it out the next morning, it barely managed to flap to a fence and off again. Then it stayed on the ground.

Hahn said the bird's nestmate stayed in a tree above the grounded eaglet, calling out loudly.

A veterinary school spokeswoman said the eagle needed supportive care and has been in the school's flight cage since May 20 so veterinarians could be sure it flies well enough to be released. 

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