Despite having a broken leg, South Surrey eagle continues to care for young

Wildlife foundation will not catch injured bird

Despite having what appears to be a broken leg, an eagle that has taken residency in Surrey’s first bald-eagle reserve is exhibiting the power of motherhood.

Eagle specialist and Hancock Wildlife Foundation director David Hancock alerted Peace Arch News to the injured bird this week.

The eagle is nesting in South Surrey’s Douglas neighbourhood, in an area set aside as a bald-eagle reserve that was created last year in conjunction with the construction of a nearby townhome development.

Hancock and his team, as part of a deal with developer Dawson & Sawyer, built the framework for a nest in the ‘The Eagles’ development near 0 Avenue and 172 Street.

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A pair of eagles finished the build this spring, and made it their South Surrey home.

Hancock hosts a 24-hour live-stream of the eagle nest on his website.

He said the mother was spotted on video feeding her young and “limping” around her nest.

Hancock told PAN Sunday that he considered catching the eagle and bringing her to a vet, but instead he will allow nature to take its course, which, drawing from his experience, might be for the best.

About four years ago, one of the eagles Hancock was tracking – based in Delta – snapped her leg after getting in a fight.

“The leg was literally snapped off, it was flopping back and fourth. We thought that was the end of her and she was about to lay eggs,” Hancock said.

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Hancock said the mother “flopped” over in the nest, and laid there for about a month while her partner brought her food.

“A month later that damn leg was solid. It was slightly out of position… It wasn’t perfectly straight, it was a bit sideways. But she could still contract her claw.”

The Delta eagle, Hancock said, ended up outliving two males.

Despite the injury, the South Surrey eagle continues to hunt and bring back food for her young. Hancock said the foundation decided, as a group, to let her be.

“I would have to take her to a vet. The dad would have to look after the kids totally by himself, and we’ve seen her bring food in,” Hancock said. “I don’t think we could justify intruding. As much as I want to catch her, I think I will bypass her.”

As for the young, they’ve grown considerably since they hatched from their eggs in March. Hancock said the two eaglets will leave the nest in a matter of weeks. Completely brown in colour, the eagles will begin to show a white head after five years.

RELATED: Eggs in South Surrey bald-eagle perserve hatch

Hancock said the mother will only enter the nest to feed her young, or if it’s raining.

“If there was a big pouring rain you would see an interesting phenomenon. Mom would come in and perform what we call a ‘mumbrella,’” Hancock said.

“Mom comes in and she stands over them and holds her wings over the chicks, even when they’re almost fully grown, giving them protection from the weather. It’s kind of neat.”

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