(Riverton, Wyo.) – An 11-year-old rural Riverton boy rescued a sick juvenile golden eagle this past week that is now under the care of an avian specialist in Cody. Preston Olson found the raptor in his yard and was able care for it before the Wyoming Game and Fish Department could arrive.
“I really appreciate the boy caring for the eagle and calling the game and fish, because he saved its life,” said Susan Ahalt at the Ironside Bird Rescue Center in Cody, where the bird was taken. “It was so weak when it got here that its wings were floppy. It was within days of dying,” she said.
Ahalt has nicknamed the eagle “Munchy” and she said it is the “meanest eagle I’ve ever seen,” she said laughing. While the raptor hasn’t tried to bite her, it has chased her around the room. “This eagle is only three months old and it only weighs 5 pounds, that’s half of what it should be,” Ahalt said.
The eagle is suffering from a bacterial infection known as “Frounce,” which is similar to what young children can get called “Thrush.” The bacteria looks like cottage cheese. “The eagle could not eat because its mouth and throat was clogged with this bacteria,” she said. “I’m feeding it by tube four times a day with a high calorie meal and giving it twice daily medicine, that should kill the bacteria.
“We found him in our yard about six miles outside of Riverton,” said Preston’s mom Heather. “We Googled what they eat and it’s all meat. My son gave him some raw chicken and water out of a big plastic bowl.”
The frightened eagle calmed down after about three hours of feeding and giving it water.
Despite the aggressive reputation of eagles, this bird was calm, probably because it was so weak, Ahalt said. “The boy was very lucky he was not injured by the eagle.”
Wyoming Game and Fish Biologist Stan Harter of Lander went to the boys home and transported the sick eagle to Cody. “It gave us more fight up there than it did when I loaded it up here,” he said. “That boy was lucky it was so weak at the time, he could’ve been badly hurt.”