Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More Bad News for Wilson Bridge Eagles

A pair of bald eagles, nicknamed Martha and George, have nested near the Maryland side of the Wilson Bridge for several years. Despite the noise from heavy traffic and construction of a new bridge for the Beltway, they have maintained their nest and raised several chicks. Earlier in the year, Martha was severely injured in a fight with another female. As a result, she was taken to Delaware for rehabilitation, and her chicks died despite George's efforts to keep them alive. (See background here, here, here, here, and here.)

Martha is injured again, and this time her outlook is not as good.

Baker said it was unknown whether the beloved Martha, whose story captured the nation's attention in the spring, will survive her latest setback. She suffered a dislocated elbow, a grave injury for an eagle.

"The wing injury is pretty serious stuff," said Glenn Therres, eagle biologist for Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. "It's not like a broken leg, like you can put it in a cast and it will heal up." Therres guessed that she flew into a power line or tree branch during a recent storm.

She has been taken back to the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research center in Delaware, where she recuperated from her other injuries this year. Specialists are deciding whether to send her to a special facility in Minnesota for surgery or to wrap the wing and hope it heals, Baker said.

It sounds like she may be spending the rest of her life in a wildlife rehab center. Such centers provide care and a safe home for the birds, and educational opportunities for the rest of us. Still it is sad to see wild birds unable to fly again, especially birds with the fierce wildness of raptors.

Update: Martha was euthanized due to her injuries.