Beach drive bird rescue

Michael Pratt, right, and Gina Glowen of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter rescued a Bald Eagle in Manchester Wednesday.  - Aaron Burkhalter/Staff Photo
Michael Pratt, right, and Gina Glowen of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter rescued a Bald Eagle in Manchester Wednesday.
— image credit: Aaron Burkhalter/Staff Photo

Standing in front of 2945 Beach Drive East, Michael Pratt carefully feels along the wings of a full-grown male eagle he has wrapped in a towel.

“Oh, you’re all right,” he says as the bird chirps out.

Touching the bird’s shoulder he says, “He doesn’t like that.”

Pratt, director of wildlife services at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island, answered the call of Manchester resident Keith Morris, who saw the bird on the side of the road two hours earlier, flopping around in a ditch with a limp wing.

Morris and another driver began calling Animal Control and the Department of Fish and Wildlife until someone could come out and help the injured bird two hours later.

Sensing the growing attention, the eagle climbed up the hill into the shrubbery, keeping a close eye on his observers.

It took two people, Pratt and Gina Glowen from West Sound Wildlife Shelter, coming from two directions into the shrubbery, to catch the bird with large towels and gloves.

They moved him to the back of their truck and carefully examined the his wings and body, keeping a tight grip on his legs sporting long talons, before placing him in a carrying cage and transporting him to a veterinarian.

Morris initially reported the bird had a broken wing, assuming it was struck by a car, but Pratt could not find any breaks.

Thursday, following an X-ray, veterinarians found swelling on the bird’s right leg, bruising on his chest and a puncture wound.

“We’re not exactly sure what happened to him,” said Kristin Washer, wildlife rehabilitation assistant at West Sound Wildlife Shelter. “If he got hit by a car or got in a fight with another eagle — both are common.”

The shelter placed him in an outdoor closure and observes him daily.

Washer said he’s eating well. After a few days of rest and relaxation, they’ll place perches in his holding area to see if he’ll fly a little.

The shelter is prepared for such an event. Pratt specializes in raptors, and said the center takes in six to eight eagles each year.

“We’re getting more and more bald eagles,” Pratt said. “Any time they’re moving in where the humans are there’s going to be things.”

Although the bird is far down Beach Drive from Port Orchard’s downtown core, cars speed by where it typically roosts, putting the bird close to a significant amount of traffic.

The birds hang around the home of Lori Bonkowski, who loves watching eagles fly around her beach-front home. The dense forest and open beach provides a number of area eagles with plenty of hunting and flying space near trees for nesting.

“They come and they perch on the beach,” Bonkowski said. “We watch them hunt and watch them play up in the sky.”

After the bird heals, the shelter will bring him back to the beach in front of the Bunkowski home, hopefully in time for the mating season which is just beginning.

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