What started as a routine afternoon preparing a field for planting became a baby eagle rescue adventure for Gary Remmers and his son, Justin, along the Big Blue River near Barneston.
The eagle, estimated to be 10 to 14 days old, was discovered on the ground near a stand of cottonwood trees.
“Dad had just cultivated a section of the field when he happened to look over his shoulder and spotted the baby eagle,” Justin Remmers said.
The eagle had fallen from its nest in a cottonwood tree bordering the field on a very windy day, Remmers said. When they rescued the eagle, one of the parents kept circling them and making a screeching distress sound.
“The screeching sounds and circling adult eagle made the situation a little stressful,” Remmers said.
“It is very rare that a baby eagle survives a fall from its nest, because they have no wing strength to glide," said Betsy Finch with Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery in Elmwood. "They die because of the blunt trauma from the fall.”
This is the first baby eagle that has been rescued and delivered to the recovery center in five years, Finch said.
When the father-son duo discovered the baby eagle was alive, they immediately contacted friend Rex Adams, a certified master naturalist. Adams then contacted Dina Barta, a Game and Parks conservation officer for the area.
Barta, who was on vacation, contacted Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery and made arrangements to pick up the eagle at Adams’ home in Blue Springs and deliver it to the recovery center.
Finch could not predict how long the bird will be at the center before it is released or if it will ever be released.
Recovery staff will work hard to prevent the eagle from developing a human dependence that would prevent its release into the wild. But that will be challenging because of the age of the bird.
The baby is fed two to three times a day by specially trained staff with very small pieces of fish and rabbit meat.
While a number of people have called the recovery center hoping to see the baby eagle, Finch said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations prohibit display of protected raptors. Plus, too much human exposure would be detrimental to the baby eagle.
“We must remember these are wild animals that are not meant to be pets and attached to humans,” Finch said.