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.]