Wild bald eagles settle in above Oregon Zoo eagle habitat

March 20, 2019 - 10:29am

The majestic birds have been seen caring for their offspring, visiting the pool

Sharp-eyed visitors to the Oregon Zoo have been noticing some impressive new animals lately. For the past few weeks, a family of wild bald eagles has been perching among the tall Douglas firs of the zoo's thickly forested Great Northwest area.

"They've made themselves right at home here," said Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo's bird population. "We're pretty sure they're nesting somewhere nearby."

Two of the wild birds have the distinctive white heads and tails of adult bald eagles, which means they're at least 4 or 5 years old — and also makes them easy to spot in the treetops or the skies. Their juvenile offspring have also been seen with them at the zoo.

Over the weekend, one of the adult eagles even touched down by the 160,000-gallon pool at Elephant Lands, perhaps hoping to snag a fish.

Koons says bald eagles form strong pair bonds, and share in the raising of young. Since the pair of adults appear to be raising young birds, they could be sticking around through the summer, until their offspring are fully fledged and ready to make their own way in the world.

"These new arrivals have been very vocal," he said. "And they can definitely see the three birds in our Eagle Canyon habitat."

All three of the zoo's Eagle Canyon residents are rescue birds with injuries that left them unable to survive in the wild. They can be distinguished from each other by their injuries: Reetah is missing her left eye, and Jack and Sukkai are missing their right eyes.

Metro, the regional government that operates the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored key habitat for bald eagles and other native animals through its voter-supported natural areas program, which helps provide the healthy ecosystem needed for wildlife to thrive.

Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor's checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects focused on saving animals from extinction include studies on Asian elephants, polar bears, orangutans and cheetahs.