Three eggs hatched, and the eaglets have been thriving nicely.
Today - the unthinkable. The mama eagle was hit and killed by a jet.
NORFOLK -- A plane landing at Norfolk International Airport struck and killed an eagle Tuesday morning, and it has been confirmed that it was one of the very popular eagles from the Norfolk Botanical Garden.Tuesday afternoon, Stephen A. Living, a wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries confirmed it is indeed one of the nesting pair from the Norfolk Botanical Garden.These eagles were well known through the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC, and have been at NBG since 2001.Eagle Cam watcher Linda Eszenyi drove from Northern Virginia in hopes of getting a personal glimpse of the pair and their eaglets.
“They told me and I just had to go have a cry. I was so hurt and disappointed, not for just me but for everybody that watches,” Eszenyi said.
Reese Lukei, a research associate with the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB), has monitored and blogged about these eagles for ten years.
“It’s about like losing one of your kids,” Lukei described.
Moments before the confirmation, Living said "We are fairly certain it's the female from Norfolk Botanical Garden based on the location, the physical characteristics of the eagle and the fact that the female hasn't been seen on the nest since early this morning."
DGIF management is meeting at the NBG. They're trying to determine the status of the eagle nest. They are concerned whether the male eagle can raise the three eaglets solo.“We are going to be watching this nest very closely over the coming days to see if he is able to provide regular feeding for the chicks,” Lukei stated.Biologists with the VDGIF, CCB, and the staff at NBG will continue to monitor the nest and are working to ensure the health of the eaglets.The strike happened sometime between 8:30 and 8:50 a.m. A US Airways regional jet coming from Philadelphia was preparing to land at 8:50 when the pilot reported the bird strike.Shank says the eagle was reportedly feeding at Lake Whitehurst with another eagle when the strike was reportedThe plane landed safely and no one was hurt, Shank stressed. He added that there was minor damage to the aircraft.Shank told WVEC.com that this is the second eagle strike in several weeks and fourth in 10 years; the others occurring in 2005 and 2001.Shank said the airport is working with the US Fish and Wildlife office to see if anything can be done to protect airline passengers and wildlife.
I'm saddened and heartbroken. I've watched this pair for a few years now, and since they've been keeping track, this pair has raised almost 20 young. And now I have no idea what will happen. To these eaglets, to the male, to the nest. So sad.....