Our population of Bald Eagles has grown in the State of Wisconsin and particularly in the north and north-central region of the state. A healthy population is a good thing however we are beginning to see "normal" behavior for eagles and that is territorial aggression.
When we give it some thought, this may be the first time in several generations that the bald eagle population is back to normal carrying capacity. For many years the species teetered on the brink due to many factors including DDT and egg shell thinning.
We are now better able to understand what might be "normal behavior" in a strong breeding eagle population. Territorial aggression is well known is Bald Eagles. The best territories go to the strongest and fittest, which is as nature intended. At our wildlife clinic we are used to admitting patients that have injuries that are human related. Territorial aggression is definitely not a human caused event. There is comfort in that and we are adapting to our "new normal".
The adult male above has a "brood patch" which means he has a nest with at least eggs at this time. We are trying to recover him as soon as possible so he can go back to his mate and family. In this case the recovery will be a little longer than we hoped. He has internal bleeding and some fractured ribs.
This patient remains in intensive care as we treat him for internal bleeding. He is eating now on his own which is a good step forward. He will be transitioned to a limited flight area as soon as he is able. There is a balance between getting him back to his waiting mate and making sure he is able to fly and fulfill the role of the male a the nest. Particularly with the new twist of increased population, to release a bird that can fly but is unable to vigorously defend himself, on this site, would likely result in his death by another eagle. We are incorporating that new reality in our rehabilitation protocol.
The eagle is progressing well and we hope to have good news in a week or so.