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Second eaglet tumbles from Dunedin nest

INDIAN SHORES — The skinny bald eagle was alone in a closetlike room. The lights were off, its wings were limp. The 8-week-old bird of prey lay its chin on a tuft of the towel that surrounded it.

The bird was exhausted, perhaps resigned.

Two days earlier, the eaglet was perched in a thick nest. Its two siblings were there, tenacious young birds with food on their minds, and first flights in their futures.

But when disaster struck Sunday, life changed forever at Pinellas eagle nest No. 20.

• • •

The nest gave out early that morning — a casualty of wind, wear and bouncing baby birds.

The adult eagles, a pair known to chase away ospreys and carry in ducks, fish and snakes as food, were helpless to stop the collapse.

While not the largest nest — eagle nests in Pinellas have been known to weigh over a ton — the Dunedin roost was still about the size and weight of a small couch.

One of the three young birds tumbled to the ground as the nest fell. The bird fractured its right leg.

It was rushed to the Audubon Society Birds of Prey Sanctuary in Maitland after a short stay at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores.

Then Monday morning, a second bird fell.

And that bird likely has a name.

"It might be Hoover, because he was substantially larger than the other one," said Arno Beken, who lives in the house below the 65-foot pine where the nest used to be.

In February, the Dunedin nest was celebrated as a foster home for a days-old eaglet that had tumbled to the ground when his home tree in Kissimmee fell. The eaglet was named "Hoover."

Pinellas Audubon coordinator Barb Walker said that when the second bird fell Monday, it showed signs of limited flight and landed relatively unharmed.

"The second one pre-fledged," Walker said.

"Though they normally have a nest to catch them. Not in this case."

• • •

The bird believed to be Hoover was taken from the quarantine room of Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary on Monday and moved onto an examining table.

The bird, after the fall, was too weak to struggle.

Michelle Simoneau, the Suncoast Sanctuary's spokeswoman, said the bird will stay for observation for a few more days. The road to recovery was beginning.

• • •

Dianna Flynt, the Maitland sanctuary rehabilitation supervisor, said that despite the injuries to the birds that fell from the Dunedin nest, both look like they will not only recover, but perhaps return home.

The smallest of the chicks in the Dunedin nest has managed to hang on, and could stay perched in the tree until it is ready to fly — which could be up to a month from now.

And building a nest platform in a nearby tree, Flynt said, may be a possibility.

"We're in good shape, because mom and dad are devoted. As long as that baby is there, the parents aren't going anywhere," Flynt said.

For Hoover and his adopted brother, returning home is now a matter of waiting, and healing.

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary volunteer Tony Maiorama nets a pre-fledged bald eagle in a Dunedin back yard Monday morning after it left its nest tree early. Most of the nest fell Sunday morning, taking one of the three young eagles with it.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary volunteer Tony Maiorama nets a pre-fledged bald eagle in a Dunedin back yard Monday morning after it left its nest tree early. Most of the nest fell Sunday morning, taking one of the three young eagles with it.

Second eaglet tumbles from Dunedin nest 04/05/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 5, 2010 11:14pm]

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