After a nesting Bald Eagle was shot and killed in the Houston area this week, the young bird rescued after that attack is now in the San Antonio area.
The five-week-old chick is under the care of Last Chance Forever, the Bird of Prey Conservancy.
Master falconer John Karger said the juvenile bird will be kept isolated from human contact in the hope that it can someday be returned to nature.
"This bird was brought to us because we have the opportunity and the capability to be raised to the point where it can be released back into the wild," Karger said.
They will use a puppet to feed the youngster a diet of fish and mice.
"We're raising it as natural as possible," Karger said.
Karger said he agrees with the decision by federal officials to remove the bird from its nest.
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"What people don't understand is that it takes two to raise these chicks. One to guard the nest and one to go out and get food."
Karger said the bird had to be pulled from its nest because the female couldn't keep up after her mate was shot dead.
“We know that this bird was still being fed by its mother but that it had gone two days without being fed, after the initial incident,” Karger said, adding that the bird had an issue with parasites and issues related to not getting enough wet food.
Karger said he believes officials rescued the bird at the right time.
“If the female had to do this herself, they both likely could have perished,” Karger said.
The prognosis for the youngster is hopeful.
"It's excellent. I mean, we have developed years of taking care of juvenile birds. We're also very excited. We've got a female bird that's non-releasable that's sitting on a nest situation," Karger said.
That surrogate eagle will be introduced to the youngster carefully, and Karger said if she responds well, she will do much of the work of raising the bird.
Karger said the timing is perfect because the surrogate recently laid an egg.
“We've got an egg in there, but we're waiting for two. What we'll do is we'll wait till nighttime, pull the egg and put a young chicken in there and wait until daylight and we'll see what happens. If that eagle tries to feed that young chicken, well then, we're ready to go.” Karger said.
If the chicken trial goes well, Karger said their chances of success are good.
“We'll slip this bird in underneath her and she'll do the work for us, which is really great because it thinks it's an eagle, sees it's an eagle and it’s being fed by an eagle,” Karger said.
Even with the assist from the non-releasable bird, Karger said it will still take money and manpower over the next five months before the youngster will fly freely.
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