Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Broadmoor eagle probable collision victim, but this may not be the end of eagles here

A small bald eagle was killed by a vehicle on the 520 floating bridge this morning, and it is highly likely that it was "Eddie," one of the Broadmoor pair, who was often seen perched on a lightpole on the bridge.  According to Bill Hebner, an Enforcement Captain for the State Department of Fish & Wildlife, "Everything is speculation, but the eagle had probably landed on the roadway because there was some attractant." Hebner notes that while "eagles are very adept at catching their own prey, they are also scavengers who take advantage of road kill."  In this case, Hebner says, it is possible that a duck or other bird was on the road, or perhaps a fish dropped by an Osprey, of which there are many in the area.  Once it has landed, an eagle cannot get airborne quickly, Hebner notes, so it would not have had a chance against a quickly moving vehicle.  The Seattle Times today reported that the eagle flew into the windshield of an oncoming Metro bus, the driver later reporting the incident.

If the dead eagle is "Eddie," it means that the female may leave their Broadmoor nest in order to search for a new mate. This does not necessarily mean the end of bald eagles nesting above the Broadmoor Golf Course, however. While it's true that bald eagles mate for life, if one of a pair dies the other will sometimes return to the same nest with a new mate, according to Hebner.  "We hope that will occur in this case," he told us. This pair's "young of the year" are already old enough, he said, to be out of the nest by now and on their own.  So though this event is tragic, it doesn't have the same implications that it would have had if the young were still being reared.

The eagle was picked up by the State Department of Transportation and is being delivered to the National Eagle Repository in Denver, Colorado.  The bird's claws, beak, and feathers will be preserved and given to a Native American tribe for ceremonial uses, according to Hebner, who notes that while this eagle's death is a sad loss it is a small part of a larger and more hopeful story.  The bald eagle population has been recovering nicely in Washington over the past 30 years or so, and the bird was removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 2007.

[Thanks to Jim Waltz for alerting us to this story.  Upper photo of "Eddie" above the 520 bridge by Todd Bates; lower photo from KING-TV video of "Eddie" taken from a helicopter, available here.]


  1. That makes me very sad. I see the eagle all the time when I drive over the 520, and it's one of the things that makes Seattle so special. I love living in a place where we have eagles -- as someone who grew up in Manhattan, I think that's incredible. Very sad that we have one less eagle now.

  2. I saw 2 Bald eagles on the 520 bridge 2 weeks ago... maybe it is possible this was another eagle and not Eddie... still sad either way

  3. Hello,
    Be of good cheer. The death of the eagle on 520 is not the end of the Broodmoor eagles.

    I've been watching the eagles on 520 for quite some time. It is my belief that the eagle killed was indeed one of a nesting pair in Broodmoor, probably the male, but the surviving eagle appears to have re-mated.

    I have observed the pair several times, including a couple of times with the two sitting on the same light post in the last few days.

    I did manage to take a very good, up close, photo of one recently on the pole and will be happy to provide it for posting on your blog if the blog administrator so desires.



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