Dumped from nest by winds, eaglet subject of search

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A mother and father eagle guard their two babies in a nest behind Axium Foods in South Beloit. The strong Monday winds later blew the nest down. Volunteers searched and found one baby on Monday and returned to look for the second one on Tuesday. Beloiter Patsy Litten videotaped the nest falling as she documented the eagle family.

Monday’s winds left two baby eagles fending for their lives in the sweltering woods of South Beloit.

Nature fans were documenting their lives on Monday, when they witnessed the eaglet-filled nest blow out of a tree near the Rock River. Rescuers found one eaglet Monday evening, and returned Tuesday and this morning to scour the area for the other missing baby.

Avid eagle watchers and sisters Patsy Litten and Peggy Lund of Beloit said they were videotaping the eagles near the Axium Food’s parking lot when they saw the nest exit the tree at 8:49 a.m. Monday. The two sisters had been keeping watch over the eagle family daily since February, documenting their every move on their Facebook pages.

“The parent was on the branch. The babies were eating and kind of slid off,” Litten said.

Axium Marketing Coordinator Lesley Zant, who also has been documenting nesting activities, called various organizations looking for someone who could rescue and rehabilitate the missing eaglets.

She found a speedy response from Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab and Education in Loves Park. Volunteers Candy and Steve Ridlbauer of Loves Park came out and found the first baby eagle, a female, on a branch at about 6 p.m. Monday and rushed her to safety. Zant sprayed her down with water to cool her off.

The found eagle was being hydrated on Tuesday and will be released into the wild when she’s rehabilitated. The foundling was about two feet tall and is doing well. Her rescuers reported feeding her quail for dinner on Monday evening.

By Tuesday morning the Ridlbauers were joined by Roscoe volunteers Gary and Cathy Hoover from the Raptor Rescue to conduct a search for the other missing eaglet. Earlier Tuesday morning, employees at a nearby business reported seeing what they believed was the missing baby, perched on a building. Others reported seeing the mother eagle swooping around as well.

By Wednesday morning Litten said rescuers saw the parents of the original nest, but were still unable to find the missing eaglet. Hopefully, she said, the parents know where it is and are feeding it.

“The hope is that it will be fine,” she said. “We will continue to check periodically to see if we can see a juvenile flying.”

Because eagles don’t get their white heads until they are 5-years-old, rescuing the elusive brown babies in the sweltering heat was proving a challenge.

Steve Ridlbauer said eagle nests can weigh up to 2,000 pounds easily, and can be fascinating to watch. Because the eagles keep adding to the nests each year, they can become quite heavy and occasionally fall out of trees.

Zant said Axium employees and others in the community have been interested in the growing eaglets. She’s has been posting updates on them on a company Facebook page for tortilla chips.

Anyone who spots the eagle baby can contact Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education at 815-633-9193.

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