A juvenile eagle, like the one pictured here enjoying a beach breakfast, was rescued in Ucluelet and transported to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre this week. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

A juvenile eagle, like the one pictured here enjoying a beach breakfast, was rescued in Ucluelet and transported to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre this week. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Downed eagle rescued in Ucluelet

Unidentified substance rendered juvenile bird flightless.

A juvenile eagle found unable to fly in Ucluelet on Monday is recovering well at Errington’s North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

“He’s eating well. He’s quite feisty. But, he is covered in some sort of a substance,” the centre’s Animal Care Supervisor Tawny Molland told the Westerly News Thursday afternoon. “We’re not sure exactly what it is so he will be getting a good bath and then we’ll keep monitoring him and see how he does from there…We’ve just got to get the substance off his feathers and away we go.”

She said the unidentified substance likely caused the bird’s feathers to lose their weather proofing and downed the animal, which has no other obvious injuries, after rainfall.

“Once they’re water logged, they can’t fly,” she said.

She said she has never seen the substance the bird was covered in before and added that identifying it, and its source, would be difficult.

“He could have picked it up who knows where and flown to where he was,” she said adding the bird will be bathed in Dawn dish soap and will likely make a full recovery.

“Right now he looks really good. We’ve just got to take it one day at a time and go from there,” she said. “We’ll have him do some time in the flight cage to make sure that he’s doing well flying-wise and then release…We like to try and release them back where they came from.”

The bird’s trip to the sanctuary began with a tip to Ucluelet’s District Office, which was forwarded on to municipal councillor Randy Oliwa who located the animal and started the rescue ball rolling.

“I was a small, small, small, cog in the wheel of the machine,” Oliwa told the Westerly News.

He said the bird was “hunkered down in the salal” and, realizing it was unable to fly, he posted a photo of it to Facebook asking for advice on what to do.

“We started getting hits and information back instantly because of this amazing community we have,” he said. “It’s a caring community. There’s so much going on. There’s so much networking. There’s so many great groups within this small municipality…There’s so much energy and so much enthusiasm. It’s like a fabric. We’re all tied together in this big blanket of Ucluelet.”

Oliwa was given the contact information for the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre and, after confirming the bird was indeed in distress, the West Coast’s Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network sprang into action with CARE volunteer Tara Wood arriving with a large crate and heavy blanket to trap the bird.

“They’re a bunch of really cool, really great, local citizens…They were amazing,” Oliwa said. “From the time we started looking, that bird was in the cage and safe in good hands with Tara in the back of her van in under two hours.”

CARE’s co-founder Lee-Ann Unger told the Westerly that the Network found a foster home for the bird that night and transportation to Parksville the following morning.

“The CARE network specializes in companion animal rescue, not in the rescue of wildlife, but given the severity of the situation we wanted to help as best we could,” Unger said. “It’s important that we as a society, not just the CARE network, step in when it’s necessary.”

She added that, before intervening in any wildlife situation, it’s important for locals to contact professionals.

“We don’t always know what’s best,” she said. “Intervening is often needed, but it’s important to make sure that that is in fact what is best…Wildlife rescue centres have lots of great information and knowledge and experience that we can all draw on.”

Molland was impressed with how effectively the West Coast community colloborated on the young eagle’s rescue.

“It is really cool when people all come together,” she said. “They were able to catch up this eagle and able to transport it and get it to us and then for us to be able to rehab and do what we do and get it back into the wild, it’s pretty amazing.”

The CARE Network is volunteer driven and Unger said they’re always searching for new members.

“The only way that we can continue to do our work is by people volunteering their time,” she said adding there are many ways locals can lend a hand, including fostering animals and providing transportation. “Regardless of the skills, or time, or whatever, that folks have to give; every single piece of it is important and can be put to very good use.”

She added CARE also relies on donations from the community.

“It is what keeps us afloat and continues to make this work possible in the community,” she said. “Every dollar counts.”

Anyone wanting to contribute either time or dollars to CARE’s efforts is encouraged to reach out to info@coastalanimalrescue.ca or 250-266-9663.

A similar local effort was made to rescue an injured eagle in Ucluelet last summer.