Residents of Clyde Street experienced an eventful weekend when they joined forces to rescue the largest female bald eagle on Pine Island.
Laurie Russell, one of the neighbors who witnessed the struggles the eagle encountered, said she saw her on top of one of the houses about 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16.
“I saw ospreys dive bombing it,” she said about the eagle.
Russell said she witnessed at least eight ospreys, one right after another, attacking the eagle.
“She was being attacked pretty good,” she said. “She wouldn’t fly away.”
Geri Ott, a neighbor, said they can only assume that the osprey struck the eagle’s ‘eft wing several times and injured it, which kept her from flying away. She said she was probably exhausted from it all as well.
Carol Casal was the first to notice the eagle on the roof of a home across the street from her.
“She put out the alarm so to speak,” John Todd, her husband, said. “She called Geri directly across the street.”
Once the phone call was made, Todd said they more or less watched everything unfold.
Ott said about 4:30 p.m. that day, her neighbor called her and her husband, Ron, to inform them about a bald eagle that landed on top of the roof, which was being attacked by an osprey. She said the attack began on Island Avenue where the eagle was seen feasting on a squirrel.
“I’m sure they saw her as a threat,” Ott said about the osprey.
“It appears they were fighting over the squirrel,” Phil Buchanan, a volunteer with CROW said.
Russell said that eagles fly around them all the time and she has noticed that they are the thieves and not the osprey.
“The ospreys are good fishermen and the eagles steal their food,” she said.
After the osprey attacks subsided, the eagle then flew into Ott’s back yard into a tree.
“I called Phil and he was kind enough to come out,” she said.
Buchanan said the folks down Clyde Street called him right before dark to inform him about a female bald eagle they found that looked to be hurt. He said the tree canopy was too thick for him to get into to rescue the eagle, so they decided to wait until the next morning because the eagle did not look like it was in any immediate danger.
The Otts were instructed to call Buchanan the next morning for an update of where the eagle was. She said the eagle made it out of the tree and was on the bottom step in the back yard.
“The neighbors called at daybreak and said it was on the ground,” Buchanan said.
“We have a lot of wild birds of all species and always provide two bowls of fresh water,” Ott said, which the eagle took advantage of.
The eagle then decided to hop down by their deck to try and fly onto the piling of the dock but fell into the canal instead. Ron called the eagle and she began to swim towards him, which eventually lead her into the safety of a net.
Russell said her husband, Billy, helped Ron get the eagle out of the water.
“She got out of the net she shook herself out,” Ott said about the next adventure they encountered.
The eagle eventually was covered with a blanket, which calmed her down.
By the time Buchanan made it to the neighborhood, the eagle had jumped in the canal. He said it took three men to get the eagle in a box, which was taped shut and brought to the truck.
Unfortunately the bald eagle did not like being stuffed in a box, so she pushed her head through the top breaking the tape. Buchanan said eagles are very powerful animals.
“I tried to cram it back in the box, but it jumped out,” he said.
Buchanan said the eagle stole his gloves when he was trying to get her back in the box. He said with all the excitement he did not notice he was missing a glove.
When the members at CROW opened the box, they found his gloves inside.
Buchanan typically carries about a dozen boxes or so in the back of his van in case he has to rescue an animal. So he went back to the van to grab two more boxes, which were layered around the eagle, so he could bring her to Sanibel to CROW.
“If I was by myself, it would never of happened,” Buchanan said about he rescue. “It is a miracle no one got hurt.”
Buchanan said early last week that the eagle is doing very well at CROW. He said they did X-rays, which came back OK.
The last report provided by CROW informed the residents that the eagle was eating everything that was placed in the flight cage.
Buchanan said if she catches a live mouse that CROW throws in the cage, she is ready to be let back out into the wild. The eagle will be released back on Pine Island when members at CROW believe she is OK.
Buchanan said he believes the bald eagle they recently rescued might be the same one he rescued about eight years ago for an injured left wing.
“It’s a little theory,” he said.
All of the neighbors thoroughly enjoyed the adventure they encountered and will forever treasure the experience.
“It was really an awesome experience. It was pretty incredible to be a part of such a wonderful experience,” Ott said. “So far it is having a happy ending. I’m glad no one got hurt.”
Russell also thinks the entire rescue was very exciting.
“I am glad that the kids got to see that. It goes to show you that we live in a unique place that we can see something like that,” Russell said. “We thank our lucky stars that we are able to see wildlife every day.”
Todd said although he felt sorry for the eagle, he thought it was an exciting, awesome experience.
“I am glad we were able to be there to see it happen,” he said. “It was a back to nature type of thing.”
Buchanan said there are currently 18-20 mating bald eagle pairs on the island that they know of.
The eagles normally nest about one mile apart on the 17-mile island.