Employees of US Steel Irvin Works and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rescued a juvenile bald eagle near its nest on the grounds of the West Mifflin Steel Mill.
One of two young bald eagles reared in the area below the US Steel plant along the Monongahela River took its first flight and accidentally knocked its siblings off a branch on Sunday.
Living webcam installed by PixCams of Murrysville captured all the action.
The webcam captured one young eagle taking flight while the other was knocked off the branch and fell onto a lower branch.
The flightless young eagle did not flap its wings and train as much as its brother, said Don German, director of US Steel Irvin Works.
The eagle disappeared for a moment and then was seen on camera sitting on a branch near the webcam. PixCams worked with the steel company to shoot the feed capturing the whereabouts of the young bird.
Footage from Monday showed several failed attempts to fly the eagle.
“In some of the close-ups, you could see the tail feathers were really ratty, and he lost about six of his primary feathers,” German said.
The webcam was “divine intervention,” German said.
The factory sent the footage to an animal rehabilitator who confirmed the bird was missing flight feathers and may be having issues.
US Steel officials alerted the Game Commission, and game warden Denton Schellhammer arrived Monday evening to work with German to capture the bird.
The men first searched the ground around the nest tree and came back empty.
The steep hill and cliffs took “a very strenuous hour and a half”, Schellhammer said of the rescue effort.
Then they noticed that the juvenile eagle that could fly had been perched high in a tree up the hill from the nest all the time the men were looking for its sibling.
Courtesy of US Steel Irvin Works/PixCams
A young bald eagle was found perched near its flightless sibling on Monday, June 27.
“We walked to where the eagle was perched and saw flapping in the brush near where the other juvenile was,” German said.
Schellhammer said, “There was a reason the bird didn’t go – he saw the other bird.”
German added: “It was a miracle.”
The men captured the bird easily and secured it in a carrier on Monday evening. Schellhammer said the bird’s body was in good condition and had no broken bones.
After an examination by an animal rehabilitator, the young eagle should make a full recovery, the German said on Tuesday.
The young eagle lost six primary feathers and all of its tail feathers, he said. The bird will remain at an unnamed rehabilitation center with expert care until its feathers grow, German said.
The process will take about a year when the bird will hopefully be released into the wild.