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Injured bald eagles recovering in Anchorage

Two young eagles were found charred by a trash dump fire in Anchorage

Posted: December 16, 2013 - 12:02am

ANCHORAGE — After a long journey by plane, two young bald eagles whose feathers were charred by a trash dump fire are recovering in Anchorage.

The two eagles were likely seeking food in a trash dump on Adak Island. Like other rural Alaska communities, the city of Adak burns its trash in a pit before taking it to a landfill. In a recent burn, the flames badly singed the flight and tail feathers of two juvenile bald eagles, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

Stripped of their ability to fly, the eagles could have died if left untreated. But city employee Keith Hamilton found the eagles.

Hamilton called the nonprofit Bird Treatment and Learning Center and was told that without their wings, the birds were in trouble. He used a blanket to corner and wrap up the birds, placing them in a dog kennel for shelter.

Hamilton and his wife fed the birds halibut before sending them to Anchorage for care.

Only two flights a week depart from the island, and the trip had to be postponed for several days because of the weather. Alaska Airlines donated a flight, and on Thursday night, the birds traveled in the cargo area of a passenger plane to Anchorage.

At the Bird Treatment and Learning Center on Friday, volunteer veterinarian Karen Higgs lifted one of the eagle’s talons and pointed out peeled skin on the yellow underside. Both birds lost flight feathers on both wings.

One lost 95 percent of its tail feathers, leaving only charred stubs. The other lost fewer tail feathers but singed the feathers that coat its body.

“I think these guys are really pretty lucky, considering,” Higgs said.

Higgs said that once the birds are recovered, they will be released into the wild on the mainland, near other eagles and a healthy source of food. Their release will likely happen next fall.

The center has treated a total of 59 eagles this year, the majority of them bald eagles.

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