Injured bald eagle recovering at DeKalb wild animal hospital

Marjan Ghadrdan, director of animal care at AWARE, checks the eagle while animal care supervisor Sami Netherton holds him still.
Marjan Ghadrdan, director of animal care at AWARE, checks the eagle while animal care supervisor Sami Netherton holds him still. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

An injured bald eagle recently found in DeKalb County is now recovering at a local wildlife hospital. The eagle, now in the care of AWARE Wildlife Center, was found in nearby Panola Mountain State Park. It has a broken wing and an injured eye.

The eagle was likely hit by a car, according to AWARE executive director Scott Lange.

“That’s the most common reason that animals get injured and have to come to AWARE in the first place,” Lange said. “Something like 60% of our patients are hit by cars.”

Lange said two park visitors found the bird and notified rangers, who then contacted AWARE. He said when folks from AWARE arrived, there were about 20 members of the public gathered who helped surround the eagle to catch him.

The eagle’s wing was so badly broken that the bone was sticking out. In addition to surgery and having the wing in a cast, he’s being treated with antibiotics and painkillers.

Marjan Ghadrdan, director of wildlife care at AWARE, said he’s being a good patient.

“He’s very big. He’s three times bigger than any other bird we deal with here,” she said. “Him being so amenable to us has been very nice for us.”

An injured bald eagle is held still as he's examined.
Bald eagles’ heads don’t turn completely white until around age five, so the eagle recovering at AWARE is at least five years old. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Though AWARE’s goal is to release animals back to the wild, this eagle probably won’t heal enough to go free again.

Instead, Ghadrdan is hoping he’ll go live with a tribal nation. Another eagle that AWARE cared for more than a decade ago is now a resident of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s aviary.

“He can still have a really good life and he can teach so many people why eagles matter and why other wildlife matters,” Ghadrdan said.

According to Ghadrdan, the bald eagle is about three times the size of other birds AWARE treats. “He’s got huge talons,” she said. “We could fist bump.” (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, two other injured bald eagles have been found this month; both of them died.  In happier eagle news, however, a pair of bald eagles that nests at Berry College have laid eggs; there’s a live stream of their nest.

AWARE, which takes in any species of wild animal native to Georgia in need of care, has only handled a handful of bald eagles over the years.

A bald eagle being treated at AWARE
The bald eagle, who has an injured eye and a broken wing, has been a good patient and not picky about food, according to AWARE. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

It’s still uncommon to see a bald eagle in the Atlanta area, but there are more of them around than there used to be.

The birds that serve as the national symbol were nearly wiped out in the mid-twentieth century. But after the pesticide DDT was banned and the birds were protected by the Endangered Species Act, they began bouncing back.

Now, they’re seen as a conservation success story. They’re no longer endangered — though they do still have special protections.