Nature Encounters Man

There was an occurrence on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 that brings to mind that sometimes man and nature collide.  On a return trip from Sabine County on Hwy 194 a large delivery truck was stopped on the left side of the road.  About 8 feet in front of the truck was a body.  My traveling companion yelled out, "That's an eagle!" 

Eagle1Several yards down the highway there was a safe place to make a U-turn and we returned to the accident scene.  After parking behind the truck we approached the driver as he climbed from the cab.  He appeared to be in a state of shock and didn't know what to do.  He quickly explained that he too had been traveling west when the large bird appeared in the roadway and tried to take flight dropping the carrion from his talons, but being unsuccessful in lifting high enough to clear his truck it had crashed into the truck grill.  He knew that he had hit something big so he turned his truck around and returned to the scene.

 He had taken pictures of the eagle to show the freight company owner as an explanation of the dented grill and license plate.  I told him to call the Sabine County Sheriff's office and explain what had happened and ask them to send a game warden to the scene.  This is a rural area and cell phone service is scarce so in order to keep his next scheduled delivery he left saying that he would contact the Sheriff's Office as soon as he had cell service.  We moved my car with flashing lights nearer the eagle so it wouldn't be hit by passing cars.  Carefully, we even moved it over about 2 feet so it would be "safer."  I checked for a band; none to be seen.  My friend stroked the beautiful feathers asking if it would be alright to take one tail feather.   Then,  "Can't we just put it in the back of your car and take it somewhere?"  

I answered, "No," and explained the law.

My friend and I made numerous phone call attempts but to no avail.  Automobiles continued to pass us without even slowing down.  Finally a pickup truck with TXDOT signage on the side and a light bar on top approached from the east.  My friend waved heartily to the driver who immediately braked and turned around and activated the cautioning light bar.  We were so glad to see a young man named Dustin who probably thought he had walked into the twilight zone.

We explained to him what had happened to the best of our knowledge.  He said, "I've never even seen an eagle."  He followed me to the bird's body and said, "Wow! I never knew they were so big."  I told him that we needed to contact the game warden to come retrieve the body but we didn't have cell service.  He said he would attempt to make the call.  We were elated when he was successful in contacting the Sabine County Sheriff's office and they told him that they would send the game warden to the site.  The young TXDOT construction inspector said that he'd stay on the scene so we could get on the road in order to arrive at our destination before dark.  About 30-40 minutes later we received a call from Dustin saying that the game warden had arrived and retrieved the eagle. 

Eagle2

I couldn't answer my friend's question as to what would the game warden do with the eagle's body; maybe it will become a taxidermy specimen used for educational purposes.

The following websites have detailed information about eagles, flight from the ground, and bird mortality.

http://www.ornithopter.org/birdflight/glide.shtml

http://www.ccbbirds.org/what-we-do/research/species-of-concern/virginia-eagles/facts-about-eagles/

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/www/critters/eagle/826572782.html

http://www.sibleyguides.com/conservation/causes-of-bird-mortality/

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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