JORDAN LAKE — After tumbling from a damaged nest in Thursday’s heavy rains, one of two bald eagle chicks is on the mend.
Unfortunately, the second chick died in a 60-foot drop from the Jordan Lake nest, where a camera has been showing the birds’ growth since December.
The surviving eaglet is safe in an incubator cranked to a toasty 85 degrees at Avian Exotic Animal Care in Raleigh. Simply called “baby bald eagle” by staff, the bird is now dry, hydrated and lice-free.
“Hey there, sweetheart,” said veterinary technician Rebekah Boan as she gently pulled the 6-week-old bird from the incubator to show her to a visitor Friday. “When she came in, she was so cold.”
Since December, eagle enthusiasts have been able to watch online as the two eaglets hatched and developed, thanks to a camera installed at Jordan Lake by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Footage from Thursday night showed rain and wind, with the two eaglets sliding off a weakened portion of the nest.
Other than a right foot that won’t open or close and slight lethargy, the surviving eagle seems to be OK.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” Boan said.
Caretakers treated the eaglet for dense lice and gave her 75 milliliters of fluid. They keep her head propped up with clean towels.
Steve Stone, director of the American Wildlife Refuge, a Raleigh nonprofit, has watched her perk up under the care. When he pulled her out of the incubator to have her fluids, “The first time, it was like moving a sack of potatoes, and the most recent time, it was like more like moving a bird.”
Just two weeks ago, Beanca, a 47-year-old golden eagle owned by the American Wildlife Refuge, died.
“It was kind of like nature saying, ‘Yes, we take away the old, but we show you the new,’ ” Stone said. “It does kind of reaffirm life.”
On Saturday, if the eaglet seems well enough, caretakers will coordinate her transportation to the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville. It is a big enough operation to have adult eagles who can teach the eaglet to hunt.