Eagle refuses to leave wildlife center

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2007

HOUSTON - A golden eagle who was nursed back to health after suffering a concussion and severe starvation refused to leave her temporary home at the Alaska Wildbird Rehabilitation Center on Saturday.

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The eagle, named Golden, had doubled her weight and was passing the tests that determine whether a bird is fit for release into the wild, but after making a few attempts, she couldn't, or wouldn't, soar away.

The center's director, Kent Briske, thought that her stomach was too full from recently consuming a whole rat. Other people who were present at the release speculated that she simply didn't want to leave.

Briske has drawn two vials of blood from the bird and will wait for the return of test results before trying again.

"There's no reason why this bird didn't fly," he said.

Too much food could have kept her grounded, or her head injury could have damaged a key part of her brain, Briske said.

Jim Rogers' dog found the eagle in the backyard of his family's Palmer home in the middle of June. Briske said he thought for sure that the eagle, which had been unable to hunt for quite some time, would probably die.

But lately, Golden has been flying around her pen just fine, Briske said, and weighs a healthy 14 pounds.

Briske called the release off when the eagle allowed him to gently prod her with a fishing net. He scooped her up in a blanket and took her inside for a checkup.

Briske said he'll never know what caused her initial injury. He said many birds become hurt by crashing into windows or getting injured by cars.

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