By DAVID GREEN
Joan Smith thought it was an injured hawk that she spotted lying in a muddy field near Sand Creek. When she finally showed the bird to a raptor specialist, she found out otherwise. That was an eagle she and her, daughter, Angie Miles, just caught.
Joan was driving on Bryant Highway near the Sand Creek school when she saw the bird. It was obvious to her that something was wrong with it, so she called Angie for assistance.
Angie brought a dog crate to transport the animal, but she soon discovered that wasn’t going to work. It was too small for this specimen that stood about two feet tall.
The bird tottered around the field with Angie trailing until it finally toppled over and lay on it back, about 20 feet from the road. By this time, Angie had already lost a shoe in the mud and both women were getting rather filthy.
Joan had been on a the phone seeking advice and was finally directed to Dody Wyman who operates the Raisin River Raptor Center near Manchester. She agreed to meet up with them in Tecumseh and take a look at the bird.
First, they had to catch it.
Dody warned the women about the dangerous talons that are designed to dig into flesh. With that caution, they wrapped the bird in a blanket, placed it in a box and drove off.
“When Dody saw it, her face turned white,” Joan said.
It wasn’t a hawk they picked up; it was a juvenile American bald eagle. Fortunately, Dody had just recently received her permit to keep eagles.
Based on the bird’s behavior—instability, falling down—a veterinarian suspects lead poisoning. If that’s the case, a lead chelator agent will be given to the bird to draw out the substance.
Despite its large size, Joan and Angie were both surprised by how light the bird was, and they’re both a little stunned by what they went through.
“Would I have done it if I’d known it was an eagle?” Joan asks.
At first she says no, but she knows that’s not really the case. It was a bird that needed help and she had to give it.
“It was worth it,” she said, thinking back on the muddy mess.
“I’d do it again,” Angie added.