Two baby eagles at Lake Waco rescued Thursday after overnight thunderstorms knocked their nest down appear to be in good condition, a Lorena wildlife rehabilitation specialist caring for the birds said.
The chicks will be taken in the next few days to a facility in San Antonio, where they will learn to fly and hunt before being released to their home at Lake Waco’s Reynolds Creek Park, Wildlife Rehab Lorena director Rachel Sine said.
“We have them resting in one of our enclosures right now,” Sine said Thursday afternoon. “They’re very stressed out, so we’re giving them some alone time.”
The eaglets weigh about 5 pounds and are 12 weeks old, nearly old enough to fly, she said.
The birds had been nesting in a dying hackberry tree along Reynolds Creek and have been closely watched by local nature lovers and photographers. The storms early Thursday broke a supporting limb for the nest and left the babies on the ground.
Brian Boyd lugged his camera down a grassy two-track lane Friday, hoping for one more glimps…
Mark Chapman, a firefighter and amateur photographer who lives near Crawford, was visiting the nest early Thursday with artist George Boutwell when they saw it was gone.
“I was a little concerned after last night’s storm,” Chapman said. “When we discovered the nest was down, I went into the woods and found the nest below the tree. One of the eagles was sitting beside the tree and was moving around.
“I noticed the other eagle down under the nesting material, and initially I thought it might be dead.”
The visitors removed some sticks and found the eagle was still alive, though lethargic. Chapman called longtime eagle photographer Spencer Moore, and soon Lake Waco park ranger Michael Champagne and Game Warden Roger Nicholas were on the scene.
Brian Boyd, a photographer whose decadelong chronicles of the eagles were featured in the Tribune-Herald on Sunday, quickly joined them.
“It was a hard thing to see,” Boyd said.
While the father eagle watched, Nicholas used a blanket and a pet carrier to collect the birds and take them to Wildlife Rehab Lorena, which could hold them up to 72 hours before turning them over to Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy in San Antonio.
“They have a fabulous facility,” Sine said.
A menagerie of injured and abandoned wild animals are finding care at Wildlife Rehab Lorena,…
By late afternoon Sine said the lethargic eagle had perked up and appeared not to have any broken bones. Neither eagle was eating the food Sine put out for them, but she said their appetite will probably return soon. Both birds were disoriented and resting, she said.
“Even though they’re really big babies, they still act like babies and lie on their chests,” she said.
Still, she said the eagles should need only a few weeks of rehabilitation before they are released back into the wild. She said she hopes the nesting pair of eagles at Reynolds Creek will recognize them and stay with them as they learn to hunt.
Eagles have been nesting at Lake Waco each year since 2009, but they often choose tall trees with weak branches. This is the third time a nest with chicks has fallen, but the first time the chicks have lived, said Moore, who has been photographing the eagles since the beginning. Seeing those eagles fall and die never gets easier, Moore said.
“You sit there for hours watching them, and the birds look down at you,” he said. “You know you’ve invested a lot of time in them, and it’s difficult. … How good it is to have Mark Chapman, who persevered the elements and freed them. Another hour, and that chick could have died.”