Efforts made to rescue injured eagle at this year’s Eagle Fest

RESCUE EFFORTS–A female, juvenile bald eagle in need of help was spotted by a volunteer working at this year’s Eagle Fest event. Pictured are Lock Manger Courtney Wilson, World Bird Sanctuary Educator Cheryl Circo and Conservation Police Officer Don Schachner capturing the eagle, so it could be transported to the World Bird Sanctuary to receive treatment for lead poisoning. 

Photo by Gretchen Steele/Heartland Outdoors.

Eagle Fest is an annual event held at the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam in Modoc as a way of learning about and celebrating our national bird. This year though, there was an unplanned addition to the event as volunteers worked to save a young bald eagle in need of help.

Lock Manager Courtney Wilson talked to the North County Newsabout the rescue operation.

Each year, Eagle Fest includes activities such as eagle watching with spotting scopes, interpretive walks to view the confluence area, presentations by the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis and displays by the Illinois Department of Conservation. Each of these were important for the efforts to save the bird.

Wilson noted that Keith McMullen works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but is also an avid birder. Each year at Eagle Fest, he works at the end of the confluence trail, giving information to attendees and helping them observe birds through the spotting scope.

Saturday morning, as he was setting up, he noticed a juvenile bald eagle on a broken tree limb about six feet off of the ground, just off of the trail. While it provided a great viewing opportunity for event attendees, he didn’t think the bird would stick around long once people started showing up.

“But she stayed all day, which is highly unusual with that much traffic,” Wilson said. “Something wasn’t right.”

So around mid-day, McMullen told Wilson about the bird and what he had observed, noting that the young bird must be ill or injured.

For more from Eagle Fest, please see this week’s print edition.