A wounded bald eagle caught a lucky break after it was discovered and rescued by humans.
The sheriff's department for Fort Wayne, Indiana, received a report of a bald eagle on the side of the road, near Fox Island County Park on Feb. 25. They contacted Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center, which dispatched volunteers to the scene.
"At first, I thought he was dead because he had his head down and one of his wings was sticking out at a funny angle," Pam Whitacre, a Soarin' Hawk volunteer, told the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. "When I approached him, he put his head up, and when I tried to secure him, he taloned me, so ... he was injured, but all right."
Whitacre and another volunteer were able to secure the eagle, and Whitacre rode to an ICU with the eagle in her lap since they lacked a carrier large enough for the 2-foot-tall, 10-pound bird.
The eagle, which according to the Journal Gazette is and will remain unnamed, was assessed and had an X-ray taken. The eagle had a broken humerus in its right wing, hence the odd angle Whitacre noticed when rescuing the bird.
On March 1, the eagle was brought to Pine Valley Veterinary Clinic, a local veterinarian's office. Patricia Funnell performed the 2-hour surgery that began with anesthetic and plucking part of the bird's wing to locate where the bone had punctured the skin.
The Journal Gazette posted footage of the surgery with its report, and you can watch it below. Please note that blood is visible and some parts of the eagle's wing are exposed in the video, so if such things make you uncomfortable, please don't watch.
Funnell managed to secure pieces of the bone with a 3-16ths-inch metal pin. The pin will be removed in three to four weeks, and the eagle will receive physical therapy three times a week over the course of its recovery.
Funnell estimates the bird could return to the wild by late April or May, provided the physical therapy goes well.
The prognosis of the bird's recovery is a small boon to the bald eagle population in Indiana. According to the Journal Gazette, the spcies had disappeared from the state by the 1890s, but a reintroduction program launched in the 1980s helped bring it back.
Marty Benson, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman, told the Journal Gazette that there are 300 bald eagle nesting territories, or at least 600 birds, in Indiana as of 2016.
Still, the bird remains a species that wildlife observers monitor closely. Another Soarin' Hawk volunteer, Bob Walton, estimated there are only four to six nesting pairs and maybe six juvenile bald eagles in Allen County, where Fort Wayne is located. He explained to the Journal Gazette that despite an uptick in their numbers, bald eagles are still threatened by human activity and habitat changes; they often fly into cars and power lines.