Hope for injured bald eagle rescued in Sussex ends in heartbreak

This injured bald eagle – cared for, protected and subsequently transported to the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research facility in Newark by local volunteers – was deemed too severely injured to be free in the wild.

***** UPDATE *****

LAUREL – An injured bald eagle found grounded in rural Laurel this week with a wounded wing was transported to an upstate Delaware facility for evaluation – thanks to a collaborative local rescue effort.

Unfortunately, the story has a sad ending.

Word from Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research June 7 is that the eagle’s injuries were so severe, it would never fly free again, nor could it live comfortably in captivity. And so, the decision was made to euthanize the eagle, according to Chip Guy, whose family was among those involved in the rescue and care for the bird.

The injured eagle Tuesday afternoon landed at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. in Newark, transported by Chris Calio and Linda Calio, a couple from Laurel.

The saga began about a week ago, in late May, when the eagle was initially found by the Morris family on Beaver Dam Branch Road, southwest of Layton Road. It hobbled around, but then disappeared.

The Morris family had contacted Tri-State Bird rescue. However, because the bird left the area of their barn, Tri-State did not respond.

On Monday, the eagle was again spotted along Beaver Dam Branch Road, spurring curiosity of people passing by.

Two young rescuers – seventh grader Abby Guy and sophomore Matthew Calio – followed it into a wheat field to keep it in sight. The bird could not fly.

“He was grounded,” Matthew said.

“Matthew and Abby were out in the field and we called the state police to help us with the traffic. DNREC said they were coming, but they never came,” said Ms. Calio. “And like an hour and a half after the cop was there, she said that she just got word that no one was coming to get the bird.”

“So, we decided we would try to trap it,” Ms. Calio said. “Matthew got a blanket out of the car. He just put the blanket over the top of the eagle and kind of scooped him up, and next thing I know he is carrying the eagle, and he and Abby are walking out of the field, holding this eagle.”

“The bird was very tame, totally at ease in Matthew’s arms,” said Mr. Guy.

“He was pretty docile,” said Matthew, who is finishing his sophomore year at Sussex Central High School. “He didn’t really try to fight us too much. We didn’t try to touch him, but he didn’t seem to be inclined to attack us at all.”

“Pretty much, we just were trying to keep him buffered and protected and keep eyes on him, so we could turn him over to Tri-State, which had planned to respond last (Monday) night. When they couldn’t get a volunteer, our plans changed,” said Mr. Guy.

There was more improvising.

The injured eagle rests quietly in his temporary sanctuary – a large dog cage.

“My wife had come out and then gone home to find a box or tub to hold it, but while she was out, Bobby Horsey came by,” said Mr. Guy. “We asked if he had a large dog crate. He did, so he went home and got that.”

“Matthew put the eagle into the dog carrier and we brought it home,” said Ms. Calio. “Chip had gotten a hold of the bird people last (Monday) night. They were supposed to call us. They didn’t. Then Chris got a hold of them this morning. They were trying to find a transport person to come pick him up. No one could come and get him, and at 11 o’clock Chris and I just decided we would leave work and transport him up to Newark. We had him up there around 2 p.m.”

The eagle lodged with the Calio family Monday night and apparently was a quiet house guest.

“It slept most of the night,” said Mr. Guy.

“Matthew kept an eye on it through the night,” said Ms. Calio.

The eagle did become a bit ruffled on the initial leg of the journey north.

“We only covered half of the cage. We should have covered the whole cage. When we got up the road a little bit he started flapping and trying to kind of out hop of the cage,” Ms. Calio said. “So, we stopped, and we put the blanket all the way over, so he couldn’t see. Then he quieted right down the rest of the ride.”

Local rescuers are not sure if the eagle is male or female. “They (Tri-State) didn’t tell us,” said Ms. Calio. “They hadn’t had time to do any of the exam.”

And there are a couple silver linings.

“When we got there and saw the facility, we learned a little bit. They have like 123 injured and abandoned birds there, and they have a hard time finding transport people,” said Ms. Calio. “They said they have hardly any down here in Sussex County. So, I said, ‘Well, honey, this might be how we can help volunteer.’ And Chris said, ‘Yes, you put me down on the list as a transport contact for Sussex County.’”

“And Matthew was really excited,” Ms. Calio added. “His plan right now is to be a veterinarian, so he was really in his glory, helping out with this eagle. I think it really did something for him for his long-term goal.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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