On September 1st, 2012, a healthy juvenile Bald Eagle was released into the wild in Eastham after first being spotted on by Roberta Hurlburt on her roof months earlier. When first spotted Roberta called Wild Care Cape Cod and spoke with Alex Mueller, who was quick to start tracking the eagle, determine it was sick, and capture it for rehabilitation.
According to Roberta, she was at her house when a man came up from the beach and alerted her that an eagle was on her roof. While a rare site on the Cape, Roberta has an eagle nest on her property in Florida, so she knew what they looked like. “The eagle flew onto the roof and climbed up on the peak”, Roberta said, adding “but it was hunched over and getting dive-bombed by mocking birds for a few hours” which she knew wasn’t a good sign.
When Alex arrived and the scene and confirmed the bird was an eagle, she called NStar for a cherry picker to get up on the roof and capture the eagle, but before it could arrive, it flew off. Alex looked throughout the rest of the day until dark, but was unable to spot the eagle. Determined to save the bird, Alex arrived the next morning at 4am to resume the search, and looked until dark as she knew a storm was coming. Luckily, she found the eagle at Nauset Light, and was able to capture it and bring it to Wild Care Cape Cod.
Wild Care Cape Cod noted that when she found the eagle that it was severely undernourished, having lost 60% of its body weight. It also was too weak to prune itself, allowing its undercoat to become wet, thus lowering its body temperature.
Once Wild Care Cape Cod had worked with Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine to rehabilitate and tag the eagle, it was released on top of a crest at Fort Hill in Eastham. The eagle was anxious to be released and immediately flew off, but not before flying at, and then banking away from, excited spectators that had come for its release. While it’s flight gave the spectators a startle, there was a round of applause once the eagle flew off.
Bald Eagles live in warmer climates, but fly north in the summer, often stopping in Cape Cod. While the exact origin of this eagle is unknown, it’s presumed to have come up the coast from Florida and should return there this Fall.