At once imposing and carefree, perhaps no animal better embodies our nation and its values than the bald eagle. Stricter environmental regulations, enacted following a precipitous population decline caused by pollution and unsustainable hunting in the 20th century, have helped these exalted birds of prey make an impressive comeback—they are now a fairly common sight in Florida, with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs living in the state today.
The Zoo is home to four bald eagles, all of which were wounded in the wild and rehabilitated at wildlife centers. None of these birds would likely survive in the wild due to the extent of their injuries.
Crowbar is a playful five-year-old female. She was brought to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel to be treated for a leg injury and moved to her “forever home” at the Zoo in August 2012. Gross but fun fact: female fish are among Crowbar’s favorite snacks—she enjoys picking the eggs out!
Named for his discovery in a sugarcane field, 12-year-old Kane was hit with a bullet that shattered the bones in his left wing and sent metal fragments into his chest and trachea. Although his survival was anything but certain, Kane pulled through a five-month rehabilitation process and joined the Zoo family in July 2008. Kane’s keepers say he is a “sweet, gentle soul.”
Peacemaker is at least 24 years old, easily rendering him the most senior eagle at the Zoo. He was brought to a veterinary school in California to receive treatment for a left wing injury. Rehabilitators salvaged the damaged appendage with an experimental artificial skin graft, but severe muscle loss left him unable to fly. Since arriving at the Zoo in September 2003, Peacemaker has developed a reputation for his unusual bathing habits: he places his feet in the water, then flaps his wings and jumps in circles!
Abe is approximately 14 years old. We don’t know exactly how she was injured, but her left wing was amputated as part of the rehabilitation process. Abe is a very inquisitive bird, often eager to approach keepers and the deer with which she shares her habitat.
What You Can Do
As human and bald eagle populations continue to rise, so do the number of interactions between our species. You can help these majestic birds (and all wild animals) stay out of trouble by placing your trash where it belongs and removing manmade debris you find outdoors; plastic, wire and other unnatural materials can lead to a profusion of ailments ranging from entanglement to intestinal blockage.
Given their position atop the food chain, eagles are highly susceptible to lead poisoning. If you’re a hunter, avoid using lead bullets—if you must use them, don’t leave your carcasses out for wild animals to consume.