It was with a heavy heart that Rosemary Tolliver of the Audubon EagleWatch announced that the island’s injured eaglet, nicknamed Roman by Tolliver, died while rehabilitating at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s von Arx Animal Hospital in Naples.
“I feel a special bond with the nest and of course had hoped for a full recovery for Roman,” Tolliver said. “He was a beautiful eaglet, gone too soon. Nature’s journey doesn’t always follow the same path as our hearts.”
The eaglet, still in its fledging period, evidently fell from its nest on March 18, when it was nine to 10 weeks old, and was rescued by Tolliver and fellow EagleWatch volunteer Nancy Judd. Initially it appeared that the eaglet was making progress at von Arx.
“It sounds like an unfortunate issue that couldn’t have been prevented,” said Shawnlei Breeding, Audubon EagleWatch Program Manager. “As someone who works at a similar facility where we treat 70-80 Bald Eagles each year, these unforeseen situations sometimes happen when caring for sick and injured wildlife. Despite our best efforts to prepare for and treat the visible medical issues, there may be underlying problems that aren’t easily diagnosed and impact treatment and recovery. Although it’s not the outcome we would’ve hoped for, I feel confident that the Conservancy of Southwest Florida did their best and everything within their power to give the eaglet a second chance at life.”
“I watched him and his sibling since I could first see those fuzzy grey heads in the nest,” Tolliver recalls. “It isn’t about just collecting data and taking pictures. I continue to see his parents in the next tree at night and hope to see them rebuilding the nest next season.”
Judd shared a special bond with the nest known as the “Publix” nest, because of its proximity to the grocery store on Barfield Drive. She could view the nest with a scope from the back of her home. She watched the adults flying in with food and watched the eaglets grow day by day.
The good news is that Roman did not die in vain. His body will be studied by the National Eagle Repository in Colorado.
“Bald Eagle bodies and their parts are protected by federal law,” Breeding said. “Deceased eagles are reported to US Fish and Wildlife Service who then provides guidance on where to send the body. If the body is not too decomposed and the cause of death is not suspicious, they usually instruct that the body be sent to the National Eagle Repository in Colorado. If the death is suspicious, they will instruct to send the body to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study lab at the University of Georgia to determine cause of death, with possible further investigation by law enforcement depending on the findings.”
Tolliver encourages islanders to get involved.
“I encourage everyone to please make a donation to the Conservancy’s Feed the Eagles fundraiser to help them feed and rehabilitate the eagles in their care.”