WESTLEY (CBS13) – Wildlife officials in Stanislaus County are looking into what caused an eagle to suddenly fall from on top of a two-story building in the town of Westley.
It was an unusual scenario for a protected bird species in Stanislaus County.
“We don’t get eagles very often,” said Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center Executive Director Cindy Manning.
On September 11, a group of people saw a rare raptor fall to the ground at a truck stop in Westley, and immediately called the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center for help.
“They kept telling me this bird is big; this bird is really big and they said ‘I think it’s a condor,'” said Manning.
That’ s because of its size and color, but Manning says she had her doubts.
“They asked ‘what do we do’? I said since it’s such a big bird, get a big blanket and put it over the bird and please have somebody help you,” she said.
The group put the bird in a box and brought it to Hughson in critical condition.
“It was unable to stand; it was not coordinated at all, not responsive, so we had to get working on it pretty quickly,” said Animal Care Manager Veronica Sandow.
That’s where experts determined the large bird is a golden eagle.
“It had fallen and crawled under a bush, so it wasn’t moving much,” said Manning.
Officials believe the eagle is around four years old and suffers from either West Nile virus or lead poisoning.
“We’re leaning towards West Nile because of the really good color the eagle has and it’s getting better with supportive care,” said Sandow.
The eagle still suffers from neurological problems, but for the first time today, it was able to eat from the hands of a caregiver.
“It’s actually taking the food instead of her having to open the mouth and put it in,” said Manning.
Experts are eager for the result of blood tests to come back so they can figure out where the eagle will eventually land.
“I would like to see it get released. That’s the whole point of this place is to rehabilitate wild animals and to release them back into the wild,” said Manning.
The last time the center released an eagle was back in 1993. Like people, birds of prey can contract West Nile through mosquitoes.
Lead poisoning can happen when they eat animals shot with lead shotgun pellets. The center did an x-ray and didn’t see any pellets in its system.