Every year, as many as a billion birds meet their end with a thump. Too often, even the most eagle-eyed flyers can't fathom the concept of glass. And windows — in office towers, shops and homes — shrug them off with fatal indifference.
Only the bird that met the window at Reed Moulton's house in Jackson, Wyoming, wasn't much for being shrugged off. The bald eagle crashed right through a double-paned window earlier this week, according to a press release sent to MNN.
For Moulton, who was in bed, it sounded like a tree had fallen on his house.
When Moulton got up to survey the carnage, he found the massive eagle, seemingly dead, on his desk.
But this bird wasn’t much for being dead. A moment later, the raptor rose up from the glass and debris.
And Moulton reached for his camera.
Then he reached for the phone. As fate would have it, he didn't live far from one of the world's premier centers for bird rehabilitation and research: The Teton Raptor Center.
But when Meghan Warren, the center's rehabilitation director, arrived on the scene shortly afterward, more chaos ensued.
This bird wasn't much for captivity either.
It battled hard, sending glass flying. All the while another eagle soared overhead, presumably calling to its distressed mate.
"I've rescued many raptors from unusual situations," Warren notes in the release. "But never a bald eagle in a house."
Warren finally managed to capture the confused, combative bird. And a short car ride later, it was resting in an oxygen tank at the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson, Wyoming.
That's where the story of this old bird really began to unfold. The band on its right leg bore a number. And that number was traced to the U.S. Geological Survey's Bird Banding Lab.
This was no ordinary eagle. Its leg band harked back to 1989, when USGS researchers tagged the raptor in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the nearly 35,000 square-mile heart of the famed national park.
It also confirmed that this bird had lived an astounding 30 years. It's no wonder the eagle had someone out there missing him; they typically mate for life.
And this errant flyer had far exceeded the average lifespan of 20 years for eagles in the wild. Indeed, it was one oldest bald eagles ever recorded.
Thankfully, whether the eagle knew it or not, it couldn't have found itself in better hands. This would be the third eagle admitted to the center as a patient this year alone. And so the team got to work treating a litany of injuries: head trauma, cuts to legs and wings and a nasty gash on its right eye.
While this old bird will undergo more assessments in the days ahead, the early diagnosis is that it will be just fine. After a period of rehabilitation, the raptor will be returning to its home skies — where a special someone will be waiting.
"We will do our best to get this eagle back to full health," Warren says, "So that it can be released where it came from and resume its incredible life."