Volunteers rescue injured eaglet from Largo pine tree

Published May 31, 2012

Using cameras, binoculars and scopes from 300 feet away, volunteers kept watch on the bald eagle nest and the baby inside.

The eaglet hatched late, around April 12, high up a 40-foot pine tree outside the SPCA Tampa Bay animal shelter in Largo.

"Most of Florida's eaglets are flying and have already left the nest and headed up north" by now, said Lynda White, state coordinator of the Audubon EagleWatch program.

The eaglet seemed well cared for and healthy. Until last week. Volunteers noticed something wrong with its eye and worried it wouldn't have a successful first flight.

Enter the Birds of Prey center and volunteer tree climber Art Finn.

Using a slingshot and ropes, Finn, 57, scaled the tree Wednesday to reach the eaglet. It fussed at first but didn't struggle as Finn placed the 5-pound bird inside a duffel bag and lowered it to the ground. Volunteers think a crow poked the eaglet in the eye. It was taken to the Audubon Society's Birds of Prey center in Maitland.

The eaglet wouldn't survive in the wild without two good eyes to hunt. If the bird doesn't recover, it likely will live in captivity in an educational setting.