DNR removes injured chick seen floundering in EagleCam nest


Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources organized a rescue mission for an injured eaglet Friday evening.

The DNR faced a dilemma after one of the recently hatched chicks in its popular Eagle Cam nest apparently sustained an injury.

After first declining to intervene in nature's ways, the agency reversed course and went to the nest to try to help the struggling eaglet. The Eagle Cam was taken offline but WCCO reports viewers who were streaming it before the DNR took it down were able to see the rescue. The station says one of the adult eagles returned to the nest soon after the injured bird was removed.

Viewers around the world have enjoyed watching the live webstream of the Eagle Cam. They saw three chicks hatch and grow, until they were approaching their first flight.

But this week one of the chicks was seen struggling to move. There were reports Friday that the eaglet was stuck in the mud produced by this week's rains. But by late evening – after the DNR had made the rescue mission – the agency said the eaglet was not stuck but injured and would be taken to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center for treatment, KSTP reports.

The decision to take the injured bird from the nest came after the DNR spent the afternoon singing a different tune.

The image of the floundering chick was distressing to many Eagle Cam viewers, but the DNR's position was that it would not intervene. The agency added this statement to the bottom of the Eagle Cam web page:

Note to viewers: This is live video of wild birds in the natural process of raising their young. Life and death struggles occur all the time in the natural world. DNR staff will monitor this camera and will evaluate incidents as they occur, but we do not plan to, nor do we condone, any interference with this nest or its occupants.

Next, the DNR turned off the camera to spare eagle lovers from the unsettling scene unfolding in the nest and posted this statement:

The DNR has opted to turn off the Eagle Cam while staff assesses the situation with the struggling chick. We'll resume the camera feed as soon as a resolution is reached.

The agency explained on its Non-Game Wildlife Program Facebook page that nest deaths are common in nature and that a visit to the nest by humans to try to save the struggling eaglet may prompt the parents to abandon the nest.

But a baby bird struggling for its life has a strong pull on the heart strings. Strong enough, apparently, to force a change of heart even in state bureaucracy.

KARE 11 reports the injured eaglet hurt its wing, which had become stuck in part of the nest.

The DNR recently posted a video with background on the Eagle Cam and the nest's inhabitants.

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