Bald eagle released after brief rehab following airturf battle

This bald eagle was found to have been damaged in a skirmish with another of its kind. After a brief stay at Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue in Olympia, it was safely re-released back into its home habitat.
Video by Danny Stusser

Two bald eagles who lived in or near a recently clear-cut urban forest in Olympia did battle in the air last week. One needed a brief stay at a local rehabilitation center and was released yesterday morning.  See video.

The full-grown male “had some abrasions on his feet and along his right wing, but there was nothing major – no fractures, no deep wounds that had any contamination or anything like that,” according to Stephanie Estrella, who volunteers her time – and much of her front yard – to operate Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue in Olympia and who cared for the eagle over the weekend.

“He was mostly just exhausted and probably a little sore,” Estrella explained, adding, “usually it’s a territorial dispute between two male birds. Seems like it’s a little late in the year [for this kind of turf battle]. They usually do that prior to nesting, and I would think most of them are nesting by now.” 

The eagle was found last Thursday night, May 20 in the underbrush by the owner of a property that abuts the clear-cut section. Estrella agreed on Friday morning to receive the eagle and took care of it for two days before determining that he would be safe to release.

The battle that sent the eagle to the ground came just weeks after some six acres of natural forest land off of Allen Road in the center of Olympia was logged to make room for more than two dozen new houses. Neither the neighbors nor Estrella could say whether the eagle lost its nest during the logging, as the logged area is surrounded by other forested areas.

The logged area “is definitely a loss of habitat,” said Estrella.  She added that “if there were any nesting or roosting trees” taken down, it could have affected the distribution of eagles’ territories and stimulated the fight.

Raindancer has three enclosures for caring for “education birds,” those that are not eligible to be released into the wild, plus three small enclosures and one large enclosure for “flight conditioning” rehabilitation birds. Estrella has been working with wild birds for several years and has both a state wildlife rehabilitation permit and a migratory bird rehabilitation permit through the US Fish & Wildlife Service. 


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