The eagle fell between 10 and 15 feet and landed in a steep gorge, Sharpe said. The nest is monitored with a video camera that captured the dramatic fall of the obscure young.
Fortunately, the baby does not appear to have suffered any damage from its fall. The chicken “does not appear to be harmed,” Sharpe said, and it has “eaten well and slept well.” The 3-week-old chicken was hatched on April 6th.
This is not the first time Sharpe’s job has required him to rescue a baby eagle. Just last week, the ecologist returned another fallen eagle to its nest, he said.
Bald eagles start flying between 10 and 12 weeks old, Sharpe said, and then usually spend a month more with their parents before becoming completely independent. Once they learn to fly, he said, they face threats beyond falling from the nest: cars, power lines, shooting and lead poisoning from catching carcasses shot with lead.
“They are part of a restoration project that has been going on for over 40 years,” he said. “A lot of effort has been put into restoring the eagles. The loss of a chicken in one season can have a pretty big impact. We’re just trying to maximize the number of chickens reaching maturity.”
Sharpe will return to the nest in two to three weeks to put an identifying band on the eagle’s legs, take its measurements and assess its sex, he said.