The Detroit Zoo’s handicapped-bird-accessible bald eagle exhibit has a new tenant — with another injured eagle, the zoo’s third, on the way.
An undersized, one-winged, 5- to 6-year-old male from southern Indiana, named Mr. America by the licensed rehabber who nursed him back to health, left quarantine at the zoo in late December and was released into the American Grasslands habitat overlooking Pierson Lake.
He joined another rescued male, Flash, who suffered a wing injury on Alaska’s Kodiak Island eight years ago that prevented his release back into the wild.
Mr. America’s injury — believed to have been inflicted by a power line — forced the amputation of his right wing.
“It took a little while for him to get his balance,” said Tom Schneider, curator of birds at the Detroit Zoo. In the new habitat, the bird can choose from a number of perches, all reachable via strategically placed logs and other objects that allow a bald eagle to gaze down at the world despite an inability to fly.
“He’s able to get around the habitat. He’s feeding on his own.”
At six pounds, the bird is small for a mature bald eagle, which typically weigh between 10 and 15 pounds. While he’s still a bit nervous around zoo patrons, Schneider said, the bird is increasingly comfortable with Flash and the turkey vultures who occasionally drop in.
A new roommate, a year-old female blown from a nest on Harsens Island, should join Mr. America and Flash in about a month, Schneider said. The as-yet-unnamed female was rehabilitated at the Michigan State University veterinary clinic.
Bald eagles “are one of the true success stories of the Endangered Species Act,” Schneider said, with more than 800 pairs nesting in Michigan.