Late July and early August mark the end of another bald eagle nesting season. Bald eagles hatched this spring in March and April have taken their first flights and fledged (left the nest), and the parents are no longer providing food and care for the young. The juveniles are now officially on their own.
During this period of learning and exploration, it is not unusual that people come across juvenile bald eagles as they learn the ropes of life as an eagle. Their behavior can be mistaken for injury leading concerned individuals to take action when it is not needed. To help ensure that you don’t unnecessarily intervene with eagle development, keep these pointers and resources in mind.
- Never feed an eagle. A juvenile eagle needs to learn to hunt and provide for itself. Providing food for an eagle quickly develops a dependency on humans as a food source and leads to an inability to provide for itself.
- Watch and wait. An eagle on the ground or a roof isn’t necessarily injured. Perhaps it just ate and gorged itself with food or perhaps it is just resting. The important thing is to not recover an eagle just because it doesn’t fly away immediately. If an eagle doesn’t have an obvious injury, give it some time before taking action and calling authorities.
- Know who to call. If you find an eagle with an obvious injury or that hasn’t moved for a day, it is important to know who to contact. The National Eagle Center is not a rehab facility and is not equipped or trained to treat an injured bird. Call your local DNR, US Fish & Wildlife office, or regional rehab facility. They are equipped to properly recover the bird.
Regional Rehab Resources
University of Minnesota Raptor Center
(St. Paul, MN)
Raptor Education Group – REGI
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (non-raptor)