On May 8, Happy Valley resident Mike Leone received an unusual call from his 99-year-old neighbor Betty. She told him there was an emergency and asked if he would come right over…and bring his garden gloves. Mike, already on his way from the moment he heard the word “emergency,” asked why garden gloves. That’s when Betty told him there was a Bald Eagle stuck in the cable wire outside her house.
Moments later Mike arrived to find an adult male Bald Eagle tangled up about four feet off the ground. The wire was completely wrapped around one wing and also around the bird’s neck.
“It wasn’t moving. I only knew it was alive because I could see it breathing,” Mike said.
“I would look to see its eyes, it’s big beautiful eyes that just stared at me. As soon as it would see me it would start moving so I covered its eyes.”
Mike and another good samaritan who stopped upon seeing the spectacle worked together to get the bird down. Mike held the legs and covered the face (covering the face helps keep the bird calm) while the other man detangled the wing and neck from the wire.
How did the bird get stuck? Mike speculated that it was likely hunting rabbits, a common mammal found on Betty’s property and in the surrounding area.
Once the bird was down, Mike kept its legs and head secure, its face covered, and held it on the ground while others called 911. Once officers from the Clackamas Sheriff’s Department arrived, they worked together to get the bird safely to Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center so it could be treated.
One of the officers had the great idea to make a hood out of a surgical mask to keep the bird’s head covered. They then wrapped the bird in a tarp and put it in a dog kennel, ready to make the journey up to Portland Audubon.
Our Wildlife Care Center staff treated the abrasions that were covering his feet. And despite initial limb weakness, by later that same day the bird was standing on its own. After 10 days in the Care Center, the bird was ready to be released back into the wild.
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Mike, Portland Audubon staff, and a few other neighbors gathered at the Pendarvis Farm, just down the street from where the bird was found. The owners of the farm told us that another Bald Eagle, presumably the male’s mate, had been circling overhead. They believed she was searching for him. Once released from the box, the bird was immediately gone, flying beautifully and landing on a nearby conifer. If he has a nest and mate out there, we hope they are now reunited.
“It was a team effort. It was really great,” said Mike. And we couldn’t agree more. Wildlife rehabilitation requires so many different folks to work together, all to save a life.
The Wildlife Care Center is the only facility in the Portland metro region that provides emergency and lifesaving care for wildlife. We are so thankful to our staff, who are operating during our busiest time of year without the usual 150 volunteers who help make the work possible.
Please click here if you would like to support our Wildlife Care Center. It’s only with your help that this work is possible.