Americans have long been inspired by the bald eagle, which has been the national bird of the United States since 1782. The birds are majestic while soaring over the country, but one bald eagle needed some helping hands. It was spotted last week alongside a busy road in New Rochelle, New York, a bedroom community outside New York City.
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Tom Fear was driving home on Hutchinson River Parkway last week when he thought he saw a large plastic bag in the roadway. As he got closer he realized it was not a bag but a bald eagle. He stopped his car, backed up in the utility lane, and cautiously walked into the roadway to scoop up the bird with his bare hands. “It didn’t resist at all. I had my arms crossed. Its wings were folded in and its head was more or less was lying on my forearm. It was not in great shape.”
Two other women pulled over after seeing the 52-year-old with the bird and called the police who contacted animal control expert Jim Horton, with QualityPro Pest & Wildlife Services. He said it’s the second time in the last few months that his company has been contacted to help an eagle in distress. Horton says it’s great what Fear did for the bird calling it, “a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
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Missy Runyan, with the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center, a nonprofit organization in nearby Hunter, said the bird was first thought to be struck by a car but there was no bruising to the bird. It was, however, suffering from lead poisoning, which effects their vision. “It likely he struck a tree or something with his elbow leaving him grounded,” said Runyan, who’s been taking care of injured eagles for the past 15 years.
The moment was not lost on Fear, who said he and the two women shed a few tears for the bird he rescued. “It felt pretty great,” said Fear. “It’s a feeling you cannot replicate. You know that had you not got there when you did it was a goner.”
Runyon agrees, “The eagle would have been hit or he would have starved to death”
Fear, who lives in nearby Pelham, is a father of three, said he held the bird for at least 45 minutes. His 18-year-old son, Gavin, became an Eagle Scout in February and, ironically, said was planning to pick his Eagle Scout Certificate from the scoutmaster later that night.
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Runyon said a wildlife officer was actually looking for the eagle after someone had called in a report of a bird down earlier in the day but it could not be located. She realized it was the same bird after call about it
Runyan, who currently is nursing seven eagles, said the infection in the eagle’s elbow is being treated and he should be good to fly away in about a month and a half