By Samantha Husted
On Sunday evening a bald eagle was found dead near the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. The eagle is believed to be longtime preserve inhabitant, Paleo. Paleo leaves behind his partner Calusa and their two eaglets.
According to Carl Way, chairman of the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, Paleo appears to have died due to an electrical shock.
“I believe it was dark and I think he just misjudged where he was and got too low, or whatever the case may be,” Way said. “It’s all speculation, but we do know he was electrocuted. That’s for sure.”
The power lines connected to the poles that surround the preserve have been covered to prevent bird electrocution. LCEC, the electric company serving Marco Island, has an avian protection plan in place for areas with active eagle nests. The power lines were inspected by the organization and updated following Hurricane Irma.
A bird is able to perch on a power line because electricity flows from high to low voltage. A bird on a power line is not grounded, meaning it has not created a path for electricity to follow. However, if a bird were to touch two wires at once it’s body would become a pathway for the electricity, causing a charge.
It is believed that Paleo, with his long wingspan, hit two electrical wires at once, resulting in a lethal electric shock.
“If you get something big enough to grab hold of two lines at the same time, that’s when you get electrocuted,” Way said.
The body of the eagle has been sent to the Eagle National Repository in Denver, Colorado for further examination. There, the Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will verify the cause of death. They’ll also confirm if the eagle was in fact Paleo.
Calusa, the remaining female bald eagle residing on the preserve, has been spotted at the nest. She has been seen feeding her eaglets. According to Way, this is a good sign for the continuation of their small family.
“Everything is good at the nest,” he said. “The eaglets are almost ready for fledging. Within another week or two they’ll be flying.”
Bald eagles mate for life. However, if one eagle dies, the other will seek a new partner. Way says it typically takes eagles anywhere from a week to a month to find a new mate.
Despite the sad news, Way has remained optimistic for the future of the preserve.
“The unfortunate part is man and wildlife live together, but not always in harmony,” he said. “There’s things that we do and things that they do that you can’t control.
The Coastal Breeze News will update this story when more information is available.