Rescued eagle takes flight at Pine Lake

March 16, 2010

By Christopher Huber

A bald eagle takes flight over Pine Lake March 9 after it was released. By Christopher Huber

A rescued bald eagle is flying free again after being released from the Ek family’s Pine Lake waterfront home March 9.

The male eagle spent nearly a week recovering from a range of injuries at an aviary in Arlington, according to its rescuers — Tim Brown, of Snoqualmie, Dennis Brown, of Sammamish, and various Pine Lake residents.

“Now he’s checked out and now he’s going back home to his mate,” said Tim Brown, a raptor specialist who calmed and handled the bird after the eagle injured itself March 2.

Pine Lake neighbors and other community members gathered on the Eks’ lawn to watch the eagle’s quick but much-anticipated exit.

“It was exciting to see the eagle — looks like he’s back to full strength,” Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend said. “It’s very encouraging to see the natural species thriving on our lake up here.”

At about 4:30 p.m. March 2, the eagle became entangled in a rope tied between the Eks’ dock and shoreline. It had captured a duck in the middle of the lake, but could not carry the weight, said Dennis Brown, an across-the-lake neighbor. He noticed the bird struggling in the shallow water after swimming to shore with its wings. That’s when he hopped in his canoe and came to help.

“I had never seen anything like this happen,” he said.Dennis Brown and Polly Ek called the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, but when the agency could not send an officer until the next day, they called 911.

Tim Brown — now being called an “eagle-whisperer” — was in the area and arrived in time to pull the weakened bird out of the lake.

“It was amazing,” Ek said. “He calmed the bird down, untangled the bird and we put it in a dog cage provided by our neighbors.”

Tim Brown then drove the bird to a 24-hour veterinary clinic in Bellevue.

“It was so wonderful that he just happened to be here in the area,” Dennis Brown said. “I almost thought it was like a prophetic parable about our nation. Here it is, the nation’s bird.”

Tim Brown said the group had considered releasing the eagle earlier in the week, but wanted to ensure its recovery. Its mate had searched for it throughout the week it was missing, he said.

“It’s very nice to see him head back to his mate, back in the wild,” he said. “This guy was really a pretty nice guy, really, compared to some. Not that aggressive, compared to some. They know you’re trying to help them.”

On the Web

Watch a video of well-wishers releasing the rehabilitated eagle at www.issaquahpress.com.

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