In October last year, a lesser spotted eagle was found with severe injuries and suffering from starvation at Agamon Hula Nature and Ornithology Park in northern Israel.
The bird, which is a protected species, was riddled with gunshot wounds and had a broken pelvis. The eagle was transported to the Agamon Hula Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for treatment.
Despite its grave condition, a dedicated team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians is determined to help it recover and return to the wild.
The clinic, a project of Keren Kayemeth L’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) in collaboration with Tel-Hai Academic College, saw a similar case a few years ago, when a female spotted eagle was brought in with serious bullet wounds.
The staff treated the bird’s wounds and gave her several months of training to prepare her to take flight again. The eagle then spent a week in Agamon Hula Nature Park and finally flew north.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Director Dr. Rona Valency is hopeful that this second eagle will make a full recovery as well.
“This specific eagle presents a challenge for us. He had a gunshot wound in his pelvis and had a fractured pelvis as a result,” Valency tells ISRAEL21c.
Lost his confidence
The process has been grueling for the bird as he had to spend a lengthy period of time immobilized in a cage to allow the fracture to heal.
His pectoral muscles atrophied due to not flying for a prolonged amount of time.
“Once he had finished this period, and the healing was in place, we then moved him to a larger enclosure so he could practice, very slowly, getting back to his feet, and getting a little bit of flight exercise,” explained Valency.
Despite the eagle’s recovery, it will take some time before he returns to himself again.
“We’ve been seeing that he’s sort of lost his confidence,” she continued. “He’s not really trusting his pelvis and his legs to get the flight going.”
In the meantime, the staff continues to monitor his progress and provide the best care possible, including acupuncture treatments. With time, patience, and dedication, they are determined to see this magnificent bird take flight once again.
“We’re really working hard on him. It’s a long process and I really do hope by the end of the spring we can release him,” Valency says.
Every eagle counts
These tremendous efforts serves a larger purpose as well.
“Every eagle counts,” says KKL-JNF Chief Ornithologist Yaron Charka, who founded the Agamon Hula Rehabilitation Center with Valency.
“It’s such an important species because it’s at the top of the pyramid. Eagles are always very important and each one [lost] is a real loss to nature.”
The lesser spotted eagle is not considered an endangered species, however. Since the entire population of this species flies over the region, Israel is able to keep tabs on its status as it passes through from its breeding ground in Eastern Europe through its migration path to Africa and back.
“For lesser spotted eagles, we in Israel have a greater responsibility since the whole population passes through us,” says Charka. “It is a very important species for us to protect.”