So, They Called Him...

Hoping that you remember my friend Al, a devout eagle watcher from MA, it is with great pleasure and pride that I share a story about "his" eagles...a story that took place this year, 2016.  The story is true and if you have a heart, you will love it...even if you are not in love with Eagles as are Al and I.  


Right from the onset of "his" Eagles' activity, and just like last year, Al kept me in the loop on the goings-on at the lake. In February and March, we noticed similar behaviors about "our" pairs, trading stories and, as usual, me asking and relying on Al for advice. Then in April, Al shared the good news.  An egg had hatched.  Martha (the adult female) was seen on Al's recorder cuddling a chick in mid-April while George (the adult male) was continually bringing food to the nest on the island.

When the chick was 7.5 weeks old, a team from MA Wildlife went out to the lake to band it. "Unfortunately, the young Eagle was somewhat aggressive and jumped out of the nest," Al wrote in his email to all of us on his list. With nothing to break it's fall, the young Eagle plummeted to the ground, landing hard on it's right leg. 

NOTE:  PLEASE do not think poorly of MA Wildlife nor of the practice of banding. This was the first time in 27 years of banding efforts that an injury occurred.  They are an incredibly AWESOME bunch of people who care!

 MA Wildlife captured the young bird and it was brought to Tufts Wildlife Clinic and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts.

Once at Tufts, it was weighed, measured, determined to be a male and diagnosed with a fractured femur. Healing would be complete in about 10 days at which point, it would be returned to George and Martha, waiting patiently at the lake.

And George and Martha were waiting. Al had numerous reports from other lake residents about sightings of the pair around the lake and island. After all, George and Martha were used to this...loosing chicks.  Through no fault of their own, the pair had "misplaced" chicks in previous years (Hero, The Story That Needs Telling).  Ross fell out in 2015 and George and Martha's first chick, Freedom, also fell out of the nest back in 2013 and was gone 18 days!  Although uninjured, with the constant supervision and coaxing from George and Martha, he made his way back to the nest and his parents!  

We all know that both predictable and unpredictable behaviors breed hope, right? Well, we...Tufts, Cummings, MA Wildlife, Al, fellow Eagle watchers and myself all remained hopeful. We were confident that once this young male was returned, he would be accepted, cared for and taught it's survival skills.
Photo Taken By Tufts

Throughout the rehabilitation process at Tufts Wildlife Clinic, Al continued to update his "list of eagle watchers" about the young male's progress. Meanwhile, back at the lake, George and Martha were...still waiting.

Then at the end of June, news that the chick didn't "like the stabilizer" and, in fact, "removed it" sounded more than troublesome to us devotees. Now, gone from it's parents 13 weeks, they said that release to the lake could prove to be dangerous.

And so, the chick remained in captivity at Tufts. In good hands, and trying to get him to eat on it's own, he was kept in a small enclosure until the bone was fully healed. 

 He was gaining weight HOWEVER NOT ENOUGH WEIGHT and we were worried...Al and I. Tufts even began to use an Eagle puppet glove hoping he would eat more and disassociate with humans.  However, the young Eagle refused to leave the splint on it's leg.

Fast forward to July 7th. Moved to a larger cage now that the leg had healed, as part of rehab, it became time to strengthen it's muscles. Tufts had high hopes of placing him in a fly barn to practice flying and feeding itself before releasing him into the wild. They knew now that the populated area of the lake was out of the question since the young Eagle had been around so many humans. A reservoir was decided upon, knowing that there would be less human contact as well as hoping the young Eagle would survive on it's own.

Success! By mid-July, the young Eagle was eating on it's own without any coaxing and now, in a larger enclosure, perching, stretching and flapping were observed...all needed to strengthen muscles. And now, it was time. At the age of 13 weeks, he must now learn to feed handouts or hunting help from Mom and Dad.

Please understand that under normal circumstances, once a chick fledges at an average age of 10-12 weeks, the next 10 weeks are its educational phase...learning to hunt, fish, and fend for itself for one purpose...for survival.  

By July 18th, he was in a larger enclosure, flying up to perches and landing normally without favoring the injured leg. He was now ready to be moved to the flight barn (Tufts-Flight Facility for Injured Birds).

Tufts Fly Barn
As of August 13, he was doing nicely and the decision was made that, when fully ready, he would be released at a reservoir not far from MA Wildlife. The reservoir is only 22 miles (line of sight) from Webster Lake.

 Eagles can see a distance of 50 miles at soaring altitude on a clear day.  There is a good chance that utilizing his innate ability to recognize landmarks, he may visit the lake, as do many other immatures.  He has learned everything he can learn from Tufts. 

 On August 9th at a presentation to Webster Lake Association, Al filled in the audience on the status of the immature Eagle....

"Given that this guy was separated from his parents at 7.5 weeks of age, continued to do well and will be on his own, and in keeping with the patriotic names of all the Eagles that came before him, it seems like a fitting name..." 

they called him...


just seeing, saying and sharing...

with you and those at

Wild Bird Wednesday

Natures Notes

The Bird D'Pot

Outdoor Wednesday

Al, once again, emailed me with the following information, which I asked him for, along with his permission to include it.  It helps paint the picture for you and complete the story....:)

"Since this now completes the information for the 2016 eagle born on Webster Lake, I have included the updated chart showing the list of all the Webster Lake young eagles since eagles returned to our lake.

History of eagles born to George and Martha on Webster Lake (6 young eagles over 4yrs)

History of eagles born to George and Martha on Webster Lake (6 young eagles over 4 yrs)

Al Huefner  
Webster, Ma."


Oh, and one more thing...

 As of this writing, on Tuesday, August 16, 2016, Independence, at the age of 18 weeks, was released into the wild.  Of course, his well being depends on how well he hones in on his hunting skills.

Taken by MA Wildlife

He gained altitude and soared over the reservoir.  I'm told he was greeted by the calling of a pair of resident Loons.


Lovely story, thank you for sharing.
I hope Independence goes from strength to strength.
Have a lovely day :)
Hootin' Anni said…
What an exceptional write up.
I do so hope that with all the care taking and healing powers...that the story will continue to be a successful one....for many many years.
Hootin' Anni said…
PS...I forgot to add my thanks for linking in at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week.
MadSnapper said…
So glad Independence has his independence and his leg healed and he could go back to the wild
How interesting. MY first DH was from Webster and we lived there for a couple of years. The lake there is gorgeous but I don't recall seeing any eagles there. Course that was in 1969-1972 so they weren't as plentiful then as now.
Rambling Woods said…
Only 30% of baby birds survive their first year and for raptors it may be even lower as they have to hunt. I am glad he was able to be released again and thank the all the rehabbers...Michelle

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