This Rescued Bald Eagle Is a Survivor—and So Is the Species

Ragged but recovering, a denizen of the nation's capital survives a storm and serves as a reminder of the species' heartening comeback.

A bald eagle rescued in Washington, D.C. is on its way to Delaware for a final health check before being sent back home. Disheveled and unable to fly, the bird was recovered Saturday from a bush after a thunderstorm.

A city official guessed that "patient 17-1125" may be one of a pair dubbed Liberty and Justice living in a nest outside the Metropolitan Police Academy, about two miles from the rescue site—likely the male, Justice, based on its weight and talon size.

The eagle pair and their three-month-old baby were already famous as one of two bald eagle pairs in Washington, D.C., that the public can watch on a live video feed. On Tuesday morning the live cam on Liberty and Justice's nest showed no activity, but their eaglet, Spirit, appeared in earlier citizen reports over the last two days.

View Images

A veterinarian at City Wildlife examines the bald eagle rescued in Washington, D.C., over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

A few decades ago, there weren't any bald eagles left in the nation's capital, and the U.S. symbol of freedom was on the brink of extinction. (See more photos of this majestic species: Bald Eagle Celebrated by National Geographic Photo Ark for Independence Day.)

Today, the bald eagle "is an Endangered Species Act success story," says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1978, it was listed as endangered or threatened throughout the continental U.S. Efforts to help the bird recover included nest protection, breeding programs, and a ban of the pesticide DDT, which was poisoning the birds via contaminated fish. (See also: Inside the Effort to Kill Protections for Endangered Animals.)

View Images

Workers at City Wildlife sent the bird to a facility in Delaware for a final checkup. When it's deemed healthy enough, it will be returned to its nesting area in Washington.