A raptor rehabilitation expert who rescued a bald eagle after it flew through a glass window in Jackson Hole this week discovered she had an almost-ancient aviator in her hands. The bird was 30 years old.
Meghan Warren from the Teton Raptor Center captured the bird Tuesday after it flew through a double-paned window and crashed onto the fly-tying desk of Reed Moulton. Moulton thought the bird had died, but after a few minutes it stood up and perched among Moulton’s hooks and feathers.
“When [Moulton] said ‘it’s in my bedroom,’ I was really surprised,” Warren told WyoFile. She collected the bird, which was alert and feisty by the time she arrived.
As she carried it off to a vehicle, another eagle circled overhead calling.
Rescuers believe it was the injured eagle’s mate.
A band on the rescued bird’s right leg revealed that it had been banded in the Yellowstone Ecosystem in the spring of 1989 and is 30 years old. The Exxon Valdez spilled its cargo in Prince William Sound that year, Mike Sullivan was the governor and the B52s released the hit “Love Shack.”
The average lifespan for a bald eagle in the wild is 20 years, Raptor Center said in a release.
The Raptor Center in 2016 rescued another bald eagle that is the oldest ever documented west of the Mississippi. It was 34 years old. The oldest documented nationwide, found in New York City, was at least 38.
The rescued eagle had injuries and cuts to both feet, both wings and an abrasion on its right eye. It also showed signs of a concussion.
“I would have expected it to have more lacerations,” given the shattered glass and detritus at the crash scene Warren said.
It weighs 8.8 pounds and is likely a male, according to measurements. Rescuers are treating the bird in an oxygen chamber as it recuperates.
Blood tests ruled out lead poisoning, sometimes an underlying factor in raptor injuries. Raptors can ingest lead from hunter-killed game, leading to crippling infirmities.
The bird had no broken bones but a veterinarian discovered an ulna – a bone that corresponds to one found in the lower arm of people — that had healed from a break.
“The goal is to eventually release this eagle back where it came from so that it can be reunited with its mate and have a successful breeding year,” the center said in a statement. The bird is the third admitted to the center’s rehabilitation clinic in 2020.