Iced Eagle Rescue on Lake Michigan
- Published on: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
- Some know that in my ‘spare time’, I volunteer at the raptor rehabilitation center in Empire … Wings of Wonder(WoW) …
By fortune or misfortune, an eagle that somehow had the inconvenience of coming into contact with Lake Michigan during the recent polar vortex was in trouble. Finders had been watching 4 eagles eating something out on the edge of the ice. Three of the eagles eventually flew away but the fourth remained, and it was immediately apparent that something was wrong. So, they(the finders) contacted Wings of Wonder where I was holding down the fort while the director, Rebecca Lessard was making her own Polar Vortex sidestep by visiting her grand baby in Dallas, TX! I called volunteer Chris Johnson to see if he had some time open for a possible adventure and he bit!
The accompanying video is a spotty story of the rescue and rehabilitation as I was there to rescue/assist and not to photo’g, but I couldn’t resist getting some clips when the timing was right and my help was not needed. The first segment I was wading amongst ice chunks, trying to keep my footing, an eye on the eagle/Chris and get some video ... sorry for the 'bobblyness'.
The eagle was sitting on the edge of an ice shelf about 100 feet from shore. I donned insulated chest waders, a PFD and slowly plodded out into the water amongst the large floating ice blocks to corral the eagle with hopes that he would move towards shore where Chris was waiting with blanket and thick handling gloves.
We were able to keep him on the shoreline ice and convinced him to go ashore so we could gather him(and his 8?” ball of tail ice) to take back to WoW to assist in the defrosting process. It worked and the only close casualty was the newfound leak in my waders ... at crotch level(of course) … luckily Chris was right where he needed to be and had the presence of mind to intercept the guy who seemingly was looking for an assist at the same time we were offering one!
Getting the eagle back to WoW, we set him up over night in a crate near a heat vent hoping the freezerlings would let loose, but alas, the big one did not ... so, the next morning, Jim Manley joined the crew to help with the next step of ‘forced defrostation’ ... warm tap water directly applied to the ice ball.
They were able to remove the ice beast and it was apparent he was pretty happy to have his discharge chute operating again as he was making up for lost time … with cleared out piping he gently accepted his first free meal very gently from forceps.
Sunday morning the eagle was moved to the outside 100 foot flight pen where he finished his full recovery. He is flying perfectly, preening and certainly enjoying his daily free meals of rabbit, rat and fish dinners.
Wings of Wonder is inviting the public to his release on Sunday, Feb 10th, 2019 at 4pm, from the Suttons Bay High School parking lot, 500 South Elm Street, Suttons Bay. The release was a grand success! you can see it here: https://cnclips.net/video/amKqpasojQ4/video.html
Many thanks to the following:
Wings of Wonder:
donate/support WoW: http://www.wingsofwonder.org/support/
Chris Johnson: rescuer
Ken Scott: rescuer
Jim Manley: eagle bather
Ken Scott Photography: video
"Perspectives" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Ken Scott Photography:
Shot hand held with an iPhone7+
Moment battery case:
Edited in iMovie 9
video clip date/id: 201902-WowEagleRescue2fin