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Updated 06/06/2024 - KRPS 89.9 FM is broadcasting at 100% power

A bald eagle is flying free after spending time in Dickerson Park Zoo's Raptor Rehab

Guy Mace prepares to release a bald eagle into the wild on his property near Miller, MO (photo taken on May 30, 2024).
Michele Skalicky
Guy Mace prepares to release a bald eagle into the wild on his property near Miller, MO (photo taken on May 30, 2024).

The eaglet was one of 2 that fell out of a tree, along with their nest, in recent storms.

Thursday was the culmination of a weeks-long rehabilitation of an injured bald eagle north of Springfield.

In mid-April, Guy Mace and his wife went to check on an eagle’s nest on their property near Miller. They’d been watching the nest, which was about 10 feet wide and 10 feet tall, for years. During recent storms, they’d worried, but the nest had stayed put. This time, however, they discovered the nest, which they knew had eaglets in it, on the ground. Mace serves on the board of the Friends of the Zoo, so he knew to call Dickerson Park Zoo’s raptor rehab program, which sent Missouri Department of Conservation agents to check on the nest.

"The parents were flying around, obviously concerned, and the two babies were on the ground," he said.

Guy Mace watches an eagle fly off (photo taken May 30, 2024).
Michele Skalicky
Guy Mace watches an eagle fly off (photo taken May 30, 2024).

The eaglets were taken to the raptor rehab program at the zoo. April Marler, an animal health technician at Dickerson Park Zoo, said one was unharmed, but the other one had a leg injury.

"The veterinarian at the zoo did a surgical repair," she said. "After about a week, we realized it still wasn't using that foot like it needed to. We did radiographs again and saw that it wasn't healing like we would have expected to, so we did humanely euthanize that one."

When a raptor is brought to the zoo’s raptor rehab program, Marler said, it’s placed into the isolation building where it’s given medications and fluids if needed. Once the bird is eating well on its own, it goes to a larger area where food is placed in random spots, and it has to search for it. From there, it goes to a flight cage.

"This bird's been in the flight cage for about a week and a half, so we knew that it was flying," she said. "We just wanted to give it the extra time for endurance and strength so that it could fly longer distances if it needed to."And on Thursday, the eaglet was released back into the wild at the same location it was found – on Guy Mace’s property.

A young bald eagle is released back into the wild (photo taken May 30, 2024).
Michele Skalicky
A young bald eagle is released back into the wild (photo taken May 30, 2024).

Mace, who discovered the nest on the ground, was the one who got to release it back into the wild. He praised the zoo’s rehab program after the juvenile eagle flew away over a spring-fed lake.

"It's nice to be able to have a resource like that at Dickerson Park Zoo to be able to, you know, see this kind of thing complete to a happy ending because, you know, that's not always the case, but in this case it was," he said.

Marler was pleased to see the bird fly off as well.

"The best part of the rehab program that I can think of is seeing them fly well and be successful," she said.

Currently, the zoo’s raptor rehab program has six kestrels, two great-horned owls, a red-tailed hawk and a barred owl. Marler estimated that about a third of birds that come into the program can be released back into the wild. Most, she said, are either hit by vehicles or caught in a barbed wire fence. This time of year, people bring in baby birds that they believe are abandoned or can’t take care of themselves. Marler advised watching a young raptor on the ground for 24 hours, and if it weakens and it appears the parent isn’t caring for it, to call the zoo.

Meanwhile, Guy Mace and his family hope the adult eagles whose eaglets fell to the ground will rebuild their nest in the same area.

 

 

Copyright 2024 KSMU

Michele Skalicky