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Distressed juvenile eagle receiving care after leaving urban Vancouver Island nest

It’s not clear why eagle left the nest, animal rehab crews hopeful it can be returned
This picture taken by cellphone from a distance shows a juvenile eagle that is receiving care at Wild ARC in Metchosin, after leaving its nest and later appearing on the driveway of a nearby Sidney home in a troubled state on Tuesday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A juvenile eagle that appeared to be in distress is receiving care at the BCSPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin after being recovered from a Sidney property Tuesday evening.

Little information about its condition was available Wednesday, other than the bird is being assessed by the centre’s wildlife rehabilitators.

“We’re hoping the eagle will be able to be put back in their nest with their family,” Wild ARC assistant manager Rebecca Meyer wrote in an email.

Summerset Place resident Sally Palmer said she saw the bird thrashing on a branch Tuesday morning below a nest perched on top of a Douglas fir that looms over her driveway from a neighbouring property. By mid-afternoon, the bird was on her driveway. She estimates the tree’s height at about 150 feet, but it wasn’t clear how the bird – which seemed unable to fly – had arrived.

“It had come out of the nest, but it looked very, very unhappy and was unable to get a footing,” Palmer said. “I then assumed that it was trying to fledge, but I don’t think that was the case. I think it had been frightened out of the nest before it was time to fledge. “

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The bird didn’t look particularly distressed when she first saw it in the tree, she said.

“But once we saw it on the ground, when it tried to move, it fell over on its side, but then shortly after that righted itself.”

She wonders if it was disturbed by the noise of a landscaping crew working on the property neighbouring hers. Once the eagle was on the ground, the arborist crew was asked to stop and did, Palmer said.

Black Press Media independently observed the animal shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday. It appeared to be favouring one leg and startled easily when approached from a distance, flapping and looking for shelter.

Palmer had observed comparable behaviour earlier.

“When somebody came close, it rattled it, and it went into the shrubbery bordering my driveway to hide. But basically, it stayed on my property.”

The nest has a history. In 2017, a different nesting pair of bald eagles attracted significant attention by raising a red-tailed hawk. Unfortunately, said Palmer, the current nesting pair has not returned to the nest since the juvenile left it.

Palmer said she called Wild ARC on Wednesday and was told they would let her know the results of the examination in three to seven days.

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