Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Eagle foundation preps for new birds


October 14, 2010

The lineup at the American Bald Eagle Foundation includes three owls, two eagles and a falcon, with plans to add an Eastern screech owl and a red-tailed hawk.

"We have room for nine birds right now," said Cheryl McRoberts, director of operations. "Each individual bird has to have a different size mew."

She said the foundation soon will open an expansion with room for three to five eagles in an approximately 1,000-square-foot mew.

"You’ll be able to go to the right to the museum or to the left to the birds," McRoberts said. "We’re hoping to have it done by November."

An early November completion would have the facility ready for the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, Nov. 10-14. McRoberts is seeking volunteers for that festival, to handle responsibilities such as checking in guests, running the gift shop or setting up tables.

McRoberts said the new mew will offer a range of weather.

"We kept this open on purpose, because we want them to have a natural environment, where it will snow in here and rain in here for the eagles," she said. "This section of the building won’t be heated."

The space will serve eagles of limited flight ability.

"George is our first eagle, and he was found out in Auke Bay, on the ice, and he was blind in one eye and missing two talons," McRoberts said. "He can fly. The second eagle, Dr. Scott, he had a deformed wing. He can fly about 20 feet, but that’s not good enough to survive in the wild."

Dr. Scott and a great gray owl arrived at the American Bald Eagle Foundation about two weeks ago. Dr. Scott is named after Dr. James Scott, who founded Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, but the owl is without an official name.

"Right now, she’s just nicknamed Feisty, but we’re looking for a new name," McRoberts said.

Intern Kori Gaskill said Feisty eats once a day, and rats are the main part of the diet. "At the minimum, she’s two (years old)," Gaskill said. "She’s from Wasilla, with a broken wing. Now it droops. She can still fly a little bit."

McRoberts said the birds are transported to Haines from rehabilitation centers throughout the state.

"They bring the birds back to health," she said. "We’re not a rehab center. They just come here to live. They’ll stay here for the rest of their lives."

That means the foundation could house a few of these animals for decades.

McRoberts noted rehabilitation choices often are quite difficult. "They would have to break the wing and reset it, and then they think that they would develop arthritis where the break was," she said.