Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

Volunteers Give Eaglet a Second Chance at Life

Looking back at one of the best successes of the 2018-2019 EagleWatch season.

Palm Beach County volunteer Lou Ulrey loves visiting the nest he monitors in a small wooded area tucked into the urban landscape between strip malls and housing communities. Lou found and reported the nest to EagleWatch last season, joining our team to help monitor the eagles.

In March, Lou didn’t see any signs of the 10-week-old eaglet he’d been observing, either in the nest or adjacent trees. Noting the silent presence of the adults in the nest area, Lou soon believed the worst: the eaglet must have fallen to the ground. After days with no sign of the eaglet, he fought the dense thicket of scrub to canvass the area. After finally locating the young bird, Lou contacted a local wildlife rescue organization, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, to rescue the chick.

Lou named the eaglet Liesl. After a lengthy rehabilitation at Busch, Liesl was ready for flight evaluation to determine if she could be released. Lou worked tirelessly with the EagleWatch Program Manager to coordinate the transfer of Liesl to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in May for flight testing in their 100 foot flight barn. He recruited fellow Palm Beach county EagleWatch volunteer Linda McCandless, rented a van, and transported the bird to Maitland.

Because fledgling eagles stay with their parents for several weeks to gain critical hunting skills, Liesl needed to join a foster family when she was ready for release. Thanks to the up-to-date nest data entry by volunteers, the EagleWatch Program Manager was able to identify one eagle nest that remained active in a neighborhood in Seminole County. On release day, Lou drove up from Palm Beach County and met the monitors for the foster nest, Paul and Susan Murray, and Center staff at the nest site. Liesl was banded with a green auxiliary band before release as part of the research study and will hopefully thrive and contribute to the population one day by raising her own family. 

Lou and Liesl personify the importance of partnerships with other wildlife organizations and the ability of passionate EagleWatch volunteers to make a difference in the lives of the eagles we monitor and protect. 

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