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The Eagle Comes to ACES

An August 1982 Jeep adventure to Picnic Point on Richmond Ridge of Aspen Mountain turned into a rescue operation for Jim Hamilton. He discovered a grounded golden eagle, unable even to walk. The eagle’s fierce gaze and sharp, menacing talons gave Jim pause, so he motored to Hallam Lake and reported his discovery. Years of experience with less than exact directions to wild animals in distress compelled me to insist he accompany me back up the mountain. With welder’s gloves for protection I immobilized the broken bird in a heavy blanket and returned to Hallam Lake.

The first step was to determine if there was a spark left in the badly injured eagle. Even lightly injured birds tended to die if they’d lost their “sharpness”, and despite serious injuries, sharp birds tended to recover. This eagle was not about to let go of life, and ate three thawed mice in quick succession from our freezer supply.

The next stop, having passed the will to live test, was Creighton Burkholder’s animal hospital. There we discovered a broken right wing, a fractured left leg, pneumonia, and an infected open wound. These were serious medical challenges and entailed a long recovery period. Creighton, his team and I discussed options and settled on stabilizing and hydrating the eagle. I would deliver the eagle to the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital the next day. Despite the seriousness of her condition, three months later she returned to Hallam Lake. Now, thirty one years later, she is ACES’ most senior “educator”  and famous ambassador representing all things wild.

There is much more to her story, and we will be telling the rest of the story at ACES’ Raptor Fair July 5th, 3-6 PM at Hallam Lake. Join us!

 

~ Tom Cardamone, Chief Ecologist