The folks at the Raptor Resource Project (RRP) who support the cam at the Ft St Vrain nest, where watchers have noticed a breathing problem with one of the eaglets for the past few days, have posted on their Facebook page, an explanation of why they will not intervene to help the chick. Here is what they said:
“We do not plan to do an intervention at Fort St. Vrain. Intervention isn’t always possible. Neither the Fort St. Vrain nor Decorah Bald eagle nests can be easily and safely accessed once babies are in the nest. A bucket truck isn’t an option and we can’t shoot a line. Those of you who watched Decorah in 2011 might remember the saga of the dreaded red twine. None of us wanted to watch an eaglet die from gangrene or infection, but going up to the nest could have resulted in the death of one or more of the eaglets if they were hit by a bolt or jumped from the nest once we intruded on it. Sometimes we can’t intervene.
It isn’t always clear when intervention is needed. Several years ago, a female falcon named Alma died after hatching five babies. The babies were 20 or so days old – far past needing brooding. We debated at length whether to go up and retrieve them. Since Dairyland Power Alma can be remotely monitored, we decided to let Dad try raising all five. He did a wonderful job and all five fledged without intervention. Many things that might seem to us to require intervention – a parent dying, things that go bump in the night, loud noises, hungry babies – are a regular part of life for the birds we watch. Intervention isn’t always necessary.
We don’t know whether or not this eaglet is going to die, but if it does, death is part of life. If we intervene every time we think something might go wrong in a nest, we will be second-guessing the animals we watch and quite frequently intervening when it isn’t necessary. There is as much to learn from failure as from success. Can an ill or injured animal survive? What conditions are favorable for survivability? How much disturbance will eagles or other birds tolerate at various stages of their lives? These are things we’ve learned by watching and sharing data about nesting birds. We are focused on the long-term success of birds of prey. We’ve never had the opportunity we have now to watch and learn from birds of prey and our observations – your observations – are crucial to what we are learning. However, in our love for and engagement with these nests, its important to remember that these are wild animals and their lives and deaths are their own.”