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Pilots N Paws

The USA’s National Emblem Needed Some Pilots N Paws Wings

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An usual post hit the Pilots N Paws forum last October.  The request was titled simply, “Bald Eagle Transport”.  It turned out that the bird was not quite approved for the transfer from Wisconsin to Maryland, and the requester was surprised at the immediate response. After a bunch of paperwork, approvals, and weather waits, a beautiful female bald eagle made a trip using the wings of two PnP pilots.


Four Lakes Wildlife Center in Madison, WI wrote up the story Juvenile Bald Eagle at Home in Maryland on February 25, 2013. Pilots N Paws learned of the full story recently and decided to share it on a special day.

Happy Independence Day!


For the past six months, FLWC staff and volunteers have been caring for a juvenile bald eagle that came from Prairie du Chien near the Mississippi River. A resident of the area had been watching her on the ground with what appeared to be a leg or wing injury. She had also been drinking from a chlorinated pool which could cause medical issues if she persisted to drink from this source. When she arrived at FLWC, she was very dehydrated and thin. FLWC staff and volunteers rehydrated her and fed her an easily digestible liquid diet via a feeding tube several times a day. She improved quickly and progressed to eating foods on her own. Also in our care at the same time was an adult male bald eagle with whom she was able to share a flight cage with after gaining some weight and strength. It was a great benefit to both birds to have one of their own species to share the space with.


Adult male on left, juvenile on the right. Bald eagles don’t get their fully white heads until 5 years of age.

After some time in our largest flight cage, we noticed she had some difficulty accurately landing on her perches after flight. We did some further evaluations and found she had a significant visual impairment in her left eye. Eagles rely on their keen eyesight to hunt for food and with this loss of vision, she would never be able to be released back to the wild.

At that point, we began looking for placement for her in a licensed educational facility that was approved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. We received several inquires from facilities across the country that were interested in taking her in. After speaking with the enthusiastic and caring staff at Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center in Nanjemoy, Maryland, it was apparent that they would be a great fit for her. The center in Maryland had recently lost a 30+ year old female bald eagle due to health issues and was looking for another bird to become their educational ambassador.


Getting her ready for her journey – left to right – intern Kassie Brown, volunteer John Kraak, and FLWC staff Jackie Edmunds. They placed a tail guard and carpal bumpers on her to protect her from damaging her tail feathers and wings during the long trip.

Once all the paperwork was complete, we began to look at transportation options for getting her from Wisconsin to Maryland. Pilots N Paws was contacted by the Maryland center to see if they could help. Pilots N Paws is non-profit organization that helps facilitate transportation of rescue and shelter animals by pilots and airplane owners that are willing to donate their services. Members of the group showed interest in helping right away but given the time of year, it took several weeks of planning and coordination to find a time where the weather was good all the way from Wisconsin to Maryland to make the transport safe for everyone.


The eagles journey took place in two legs – the first pilot flew her from Janesville, Wisconsin to Zanesville, Ohio, and a second pilot took her the rest of the way to Maryland. On Saturday morning, FLWC volunteers, Amy Streff and her husband, and John Kraak drove her from Madison to Janesville to catch her first flight at 11 am. Here are some photos from her journey.

Arriving in Janesville.

Arriving in Janesville.

By 7 pm, we had received news that she had arrived safely at her final destination. While we would have preferred for her to be released to live freely in the wild, we are grateful that she has a permanent home where she can work to represent her species and help create a love and respect for them with the youth of Maryland.

Pilot Mike Greene (middle),  and FLWC volunteers Amy Streff (second from right) and John Kraak (far right)

Pilot Mike Greene (middle), and FLWC volunteers Amy Streff (second from right) and John Kraak (far right)

You can read more about her journey in a newspaper article by Southern Maryland Newspapers. We’d like to thank Paula and Mike at Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center for their efforts in coordinating the transportation and for giving this girl a place to call home. We would also like to thank pilots Mike Greene and Wes Hughes for generously donating their time and talent to get her to Maryland safely.



There are several more pictures in the original post at Four Lakes Wildlife Center.  Click here to view the post and the pictures.