Two young bald eagles were safely delivered to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in St. Paul on Monday afternoon after being rescued Sunday from their collapsed nest near East Grand Forks.
Russell Hons, a local photographer who rescued the young eagles, said he was on his way back from Thief River Falls on Sunday afternoon when he decided to check on the nest.
Hons had photographed the parents on Thursday and said they were acting strangely.
In hindsight, they probably were trying to protect the eaglets, he said.
“They were real jumpy and kind of aggressive, which they normally aren’t,” Hons said Monday. “I parked my car, and they came flying out of the trees and squawking.”
Hons said he didn’t give the aggressive behavior much thought until he got home Thursday night and decided to pay another visit to the nest site on Sunday evening.
That’s when he noticed the two young eagles on the ground.
“I drove by there and saw what looked like one in the field below the nest, and when I got closer, I could see both of them were sitting there,” Hons said.
That set the stage for the rescue, and Hons said he spent the next couple of hours on the phone calling authorities in North Dakota and Minnesota, regional raptor expert Tim Driscoll, of Grand Forks, and finally personnel from the Raptor Center.
“Finally, after we got some pictures sent to the Raptor Center and they determined they could maybe have a chance at saving them, they said if you safely get them to St. Paul, then we’ll do what we can,” Hons said.
Michael Bogart, another local photographer, drove to the site with a tote, and Hons said he picked up the eaglets without any issues. By about 8 p.m. Sunday, they were in a crate riding back to Hons’ residence. Later in the evening, UND Police Lt. Danny Weigel rounded up a dog kennel for the eaglets, and the birds spent the night in Hons’ garage.
That still left the challenge of getting the eaglets to St. Paul. Hons said he put out a message Sunday night on Facebook, and within 5 minutes, he had a volunteer. Lee Mewes, a Grand Forks sheriff’s deputy who had Monday off, drove the birds to the Twin Cities on Monday afternoon.
The young eagles, which Hons said were about the size of store-bought turkeys, seemed to be doing well Monday morning. Hons said he hopes to hear more from the Raptor Center about the condition of the eaglets in the next couple of days.
“To be able to get the OK to go and bring them and try to get them some help was definitely a relief,” he said. “I put out a call for volunteers, and everybody jumped at it to help so it was nice to have everybody helping out.”