Part II of the eagle saga wasn’t published in time to tell of “Goldie’s” speedy transport to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center in South Lake Tahoe. The levity of his delivery into very competent hands just didn’t seem appropriate, given the fact that he had to be euthanized yesterday, 2/23, due to the extent of his injuries.
As it turns out, “Goldie” wasn’t a goldie after all. It was determined that he was an immature Bald eagle. It was this immaturity that most likely was his downfall, as it is for many young raptors, eagles in particular. The risk of death lies in their size and lack of experience with landing, while trying to manage their ungainly wingspans. Landings on, and around, power poles present imminent danger to the birds who have yet to master five foot wing spans. The high winds could have been a factor in Goldie’s contact with the lines, as well, since some gusts over the ridges were recorded as high as 125 mph.
The external wounds Goldie sustained as a result of his collision with the high voltage power lines at first appeared non-life threatening. However, internal injuries were probable, as he refused to eat of his own accord, and had to be force fed mice, rabbits and fish. Then, the visible wounds on the wing became necrotic, and nothing could be done to stop the advancing decay of the flesh, other than amputation of the wing, and that in itself would have been an unforgivable tragedy. So……that awful, ultimate decision was made.
Certainly a sad outcome to what had started out as an exciting gambit to save a beautiful creature of the sky, wind and clouds. On the other hand, the sadness is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he passed quickly, quietly and painlessly. Left in that open field, battling the elements of wind and snow, he would have either starved or frozen to death, or, much worse, died a violent, frightening death trying to defend himself against coyotes or bobcats.
According to Native American legend, the eagle holds an exalted place in God’s creation; “Of all creatures he is the most special for Him,” since “The Creator chose the eagle to be the Master of the Sky,” and “a conduit between man and heaven, carrying [our] prayers to the Father.”
An eagle’s feather is the ultimate gift to be offered to anyone in the Native American culture. It is an “act of love, gratitude, and high respect” shown to the recipient, a sacred honor not to be taken lightly.
I was honored to have been able to be so close to this magnificent “messenger of God;” to have looked into those fathomless eyes, and to have felt the power of that body and his wings; to have seen and touched the deadly beauty of his beak and talons. What an awesome gift I received in exchange for so little.
Perhaps he took a message of love to my dad.