Terry Crowe stood and watched with pride as a bald eagle he helped saved from a deadly fight a month ago was released back into a Richmond field by wildlife rehabilitation volunteers.
Crowe was out for his usual bike ride on Jan. 22, down near the foot of No. 3 Road – close to Dyke Road – when he spotted something moving in a nearby field.
Upon closer examination, he realized it was a pair of bald eagles, tangled together, bloodied, exhausted and apparently struggling for life.
Through a few coincidental phone calls, about 15 minutes later a Steveston-based volunteer from the Delta-based non-profit OWL (Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society) arrived at the scene.
According to Crowe, as soon as the volunteer, Shane Palichuk, got one the eagles in his net, the pair untangled and one of them flew off.
And for the last four weeks, the other bald eagle has been nursed back to health at OWL, before being released Thursday morning in the same field.
Accompanied by Palichuk, his daughter and few local residents, Crowe looked on as the eagle immediately took off, before attracting the attention of two other eagles, one of which it flew off into the distance with.
“It felt satisfying that, through several coincidences, helpful and watchful environmentally-minded strangers and the OWL, two eagles were saved,” Crowe told the Richmond News.
“I really wasn’t sure what to do when I saw the eagles in the field. I’m glad I stopped though.”
Rob Hope, raptor care manager at OWL, said the adult male eagle likely ventured into the wrong territory and paid the price for it.
“He got into a pretty good tussle originally. He had puncture wounds, scrapes and cuts all over, consistent with fighting,” said Hope, adding that OWL takes in about 150 injured eagles every year from across the province.
“At this time of year, this kind of thing tends to happen more because it’s the start of breeding season and it can be a territorial battle or a food battle.
“This guy had a pretty good wallop; there’s usually a winner and a loser in these fights.”
Hope said it’s hard to tell if the eagle was local or had migrated to the area from somewhere else in B.C.
He added that it was normal for eagles to spend about a month in rehab, even though their wounds tend to heal up on their own.
“We also put them in the flight pen when they’re healed. Even though they appear normal, we want to make sure they can fly ok,” said Hope.
“We have a 300 foot flight pen, 10 cages joined together. They go in there to make sure they’re strong enough to be released.”
For more information on OWL, including how to donate, go to https://www.owlrehab.org/