BANGOR, Maine — A female bald eagle found Sunday morning sitting on the sidewalk at the corner of Kenduskeag Avenue and Division Street has elevated levels of lead in her bloodstream, according to Diane Winn of Avian Haven in Freedom.
The bird was taken to the rescue center in Waldo County by a Maine game warden after Bangor police received numerous calls about 10:30 a.m. concerning the distressed adult bird, which appeared to have a nest nearby.
Officers directed traffic and kept spectators at a distance until Maine Game Warden Jim Fahey could arrive. The eagle offered no resistance when picked up, but it did appear unhappy once placed in a pet carrier in the back of Fahey’s pickup truck.
Winn said that the eagle also appeared to have ingested some other kind of toxin that has not yet been identified because by mid-afternoon she was “passed out.” Winn said it would be mid-afternoon Monday before she knows whether the bird has a chance of recovering.
“We have started some treatment and, hopefully, she’ll be better tomorrow,” she said. “We’re proceeding as if she’s been exposed to some kind of toxin.”
When he gently plucked the bird from the sidewalk, Fahey said the bird had been tagged previously by the warden service but information about how and when that happened would not be available until Monday.
The warden said the eagle was an adult because of its white head and tail feathers. A juvenile’s feathers would be all brown. He also said it did not appear she was sitting on eggs.
Winn said the bird was at least five years old but she couldn’t be sure of the eagle’s age until Monday, when the warden service’s banding records will be accessible.
“I don’t see any obvious injury,” Fahey told local reporters once the bird was removed from the sidewalk. “It seems a bit disoriented. That could be from lead poisoning, or it may have collided with a wire.”
Fahey said that while it was a bit unusual for eagles to nest in a residential neighborhood, the intersection is close to the Kenduskeag Stream and Penobscot River, which would be a food source for the bird. The nest appeared to be at the top of a tall pine tree on the lawn of a large home broken up into apartments.
John Ellis, who lives in one those apartments, told reporters that a pair of eagles began nesting about three years in one of several large pine tree on the property.
“Last year, they had two eaglets and you could see them come and go all the time,” he said. “One of them wound up on the ground last spring. It was too young to fly. The wardens came to get it and were able to rehabilitate it and release it.
“It’s a joy to watch them,” Ellis said as the second eagle circled overhead. I’ll be sitting in my kitchen having a cup of coffee and one of them will land on the front lawn after grabbing a rodent or something. It will just sit there for a few moments and look at me. It’s really cool.”