September 14, 2005
PHOENIX - An eaglet rescued from its nest, after being attacked by
killer bees, was successfully placed back into the wilds of Arizona today.
The 27-week-old bald eagle is one of two eaglets rescued by Arizona Game and
Fish Department biologists back in May, after an Africanized bee attack in the
Bartlett Dam area of the Verde River, southeast of Cave Creek. The other eaglet
actually prompted the bee attack by accident, while trying to learn how to fly
on a branch that contained a beehive. That eaglet did not survive. However, this
one is doing well. It spent more than three months recuperating at Liberty
Wildlife Rehabilitation in Scottsdale.
"The nestling was attacked during a critical time of growth and development for
young bald eagles," says James Driscoll, head of the Arizona Game and Fish
Department's bald eagle management program. "Fortunately, we were able to get
the eaglet some great care, and the volunteers at Liberty Wildlife taught the
bird how to fly, hunt for food, avoid predators, and carry out other behaviors
of an adult bald eagle."
When the eaglet first arrived at Liberty Wildlife, it wasn't eating well and
spent a lot of time resting in its cage. The nestling was in shock from hundreds
of bee stings. In late June, it started showing signs of improvement and was
transferred to an outdoor pen to be around other raptors at the facility. Flight
and hunting training began in July.
"This is a very feisty female," says Liberty Wildlife Executive Director Megan
Mosby. "Her testy behavior surfaced when we forced her to fly more than she
wanted to, but we think this kind of behavior will serve her well in the wild."
The eaglet was set free in the Horseshoe Dam area, northwest of Cave Creek, and
is expected to thrive, thanks to her training while in captivity.
Arizona currently has 39 breeding pairs of bald eagles. The Arizona Game and
Fish Department has a nest watch program that monitors the progress of these
raptors during their breeding season. This year's season produced 37 nestlings
in our state.