From Randy and Michele Fletcher of Aberdeen:
It all started on the morning of February 12, 2011. I was headed for work when my husband, Randy, called me. He proceeded to tell me that he was standing on Rt. 40 in Edgewood, Maryland staring at a bald eagle in the roadway, and was directing traffic around the eagle that was in the fast lane. You’re kidding me. right? (Randy and I have a strong love and respect for bald eagles). I immediately headed to where Randy and the eagle were. I just had to see this! When I came upon Randy and the eagle, I thought I was going to see this eagle standing in the roadway, somewhat stunned, trying to gather his sorts and figure out what had just happened and then he would fly off. That would not be case. This poor eagle was sprawled out on Rt. 40, head slightly raised and eyes moving, nothing else. Oh, how sad. Is this eagle really alive? Is it going to survive? were questions both Randy and I kept asking ourselves…
Randy, a Sr. Equipment Operator for Harford County, had been traveling to a job in a Gradall excavator and happened to see two eagles “fighting each other” in the air. As Randy was traveling past them in the slow lane of Rt. 40, this eagle “fell from the sky” full speed in the fast lane right beside Randy! Shocked, Randy’s maternal instinct took over. He slammed on his brakes of the Gradall, pulled into the fast lane in front of this eagle, and backed up closer to him. All Randy could think of was that someone was going to run over this bird if he doesn’t do something! Immediately, he put on his safety vest and started directing traffic away from the fast lane and away from the eagle. Randy called 911 and told them that he “was in the middle of Rt. 40, in the fast lane, directing traffic around an injured bald eagle”. Soon, Randy’s co-workers showed up to assist with traffic control. Eventually, police showed up and parked behind the eagle to help in protecting him. We then waited for someone from the Department of Natural Resources to show up. Minutes later, Officer Ward showed up. I sensed some concern with Officer Ward when he came upon the eagle though we never spoke to each other. What was he thinking? Was this eagle going to survive? Can he be rehabilitated? Officer Ward put on his protective gloves and carefully covered the eagle’s face to keep him from being spooked. He then placed the eagle in a tub and covered him (along with strapping the cover down to protect the eagle to keep him from taking flight). Officer Ward obviously knew the eagle was injured and if it tried to fly, it may cause more injury to itself. Job well done Officer Ward!
I headed back to work and eventually called several veterinarians in the area to see where Officer Ward had taken the eagle. I was determined to find this bird! Finally, I found that he was taken to a local veterinarian who specializes in caring for and saving wild raptors. I kept in constant contact with the veterinarian’s office who kindly kept me updated with his progress. I was told that the eagle had an old fracture of his leg and that it had started healing over. Later, It was also determined that he had a punctured trachea. The veterinarian was treating the eagle with antibiotics as it was also noted he had some open wounds, possibly from fighting with the other eagle. I was also told, eventually, that the eagle had been offered mice, which he refused and finally, received special ordered fish from the Phoenix Wildlife Center compliments of Conrad’s on Joppa Road! I was in tears! Randy was speechless. Happy tears to say the least! We were both thinking that if this eagle is eating, there’s got to be some hope and he’s going to make it!
Eventually, I was told the eagle was “definitely” able to be rehabilitated! Once again, happy tears! Where is the veterinarian going to send this eagle? Can we go see him? How long will he be there? Once rehabilitation was completed, where will they release him? Sooo many questions and no answers.
Finally, we found out that the eagle would be taken to the Phoenix Wildlife Center to recuperate! YAY!!! I called the center and spoke with Kathy Woods. What a wonderful, most impressive, individual. She took the time to answer questions that Randy and I had, educated us more on eagles in rehabilitation and the like. Kathy told me that the eagle was doing wonderful but he was eating a “a bunch of fish”, eating shad that were up to 1 1/2 feet long! He had to go on a diet or this eagle is not going to be able to fly like an eagle should! When asked if Randy and I could go see the eagle in rehab, I received a kind “probably not”. However, Kathy told me that the eagle would be at Phoenix for about a week or so. She would then release him at the Anita Leight Sanctuary, very close to where the eagle fell. Kathy said, “Michele, you sound like you are hyperventilating”. I said that I was fine, I was just so excited to hear such wonderful news and just could not wait to share this information with Randy!!! Kathy told me, “Don’t worry Michele, I’m not going to do this without you”, something I will never forget. Our prayers for a full recovery and questions were answered, thanks to Kathy.
Since Kathy is some kind of busy, I’ve tried not to bother her. In our hearts, we know that she’ll keep us posted on the eagle’s progress. We realize the before picture(s) are devastating, but just look at the after picture(s) and you can do doing nothing more than smile! When the eagle is released home, Randy and I will surely be there to see this miracle happen.
Randy and I hope you have enjoyed reading our experience. It is something, neither of us will probably ever experience again (We kinda’ hope NOT). In our hearts, we will always hold a special place, something that will never be taken away, and a “feel good” story to share with our family and friends.
Our special THANKS go to Officer Ward, Dr. Zantop, and Kathy (in the) Woods.
P.S. My special THANKS goes to Randy. Without you babe, this eagle would not be here today. You may think your actions “Weren’t all that” but they were. Our story explains why they were.
Randy and I will be making a donation to the Phoenix Wildlife Center. It was a “no brainer for us”!
Love to all,
Randy and Michele Fletcher
Photos by Randy and Michele Fletcher and Melissa Goodman.
Kathy Woods and Phoenix Wildlife Center will be in Aberdeen on Saturday, April 16 for Harford County’s Earth Day Celebration.