Sparky, Recovered Bald Eagle Released, Reunited with Mate near Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Sparky, the bald eagle electrocuted in March 2017 by a 7,200-volt power line west of Port Angeles, has been released back to the wild and returned to his mate.  “It was beautiful,” said Jaye Moore, executive director of the Sequim-based Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Sparky Released

Moore and volunteers released Sparky on Saturday evening — Earth Day — on Walkabout Way, near where he was found March 12.  When Moore, Sparky and others first arrived at the area Saturday, Sparky’s mate was nowhere to be found.  But as Sparky was released and flew up to one of his favorite trees, his mate made an appearance.  Moore and volunteers then threw fish for the birds. Once they finished eating,  Sparky and his mate flew off together.  “They flew around together, then went up and sat up in another favorite spot,” she said. “It was gorgeous.”

Mate Waited for His Return

Moore said Sparky’s mate had waited for him to return from the Raptor Center, instead of flying off with another male.  When eagles select a mate, they stay together for life, Moore said. Only after being apart for quite some time will they consider looking for another mate, she said.  “There hadn’t been a whole lot of time that had passed yet, so we knew it was going to work,” she said.

While she stayed loyal, that doesn’t mean other birds weren’t trying to woo her. A nearby homeowner kept Moore up to date with what was happening, she said.  “Two other birds were going in and trying to be nice to her, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with them,” Moore said.

Instead, Sparky and his mate “picked up right where they left off before he got hurt.”  Moore heard from homeowners nearby Sunday that the two eagles were still together, she said.  It’s likely too late in the season for the two to nest this year, but there’s always next year, she said.  “At least they are together,” she said.

Sparky Electrocuted

Sparky, a 4- to 6-year-old male bald eagle, was electrocuted last month when he touched the power line with his talon, part of which melted.  The electricity flowed into his talon, through his body and out his wing.  Early signs looked good that he would have a strong recovery, but Moore continued to watch closely to be sure.  He was scheduled for release earlier this month, but as Moore and volunteers were preparing to let him go, they discovered he needed just a bit more time to heal.

Recovery Rare

Moore said it is rare for a bird to recover after being electrocuted by power lines.  Most either die from their injuries or need to be euthanized, she said.  “Most of them don’t recover,” she said. “This was amazing because he was able to recover.”  When Sparky arrived to the Raptor Center, he couldn’t stand, she said.  “To take something that bad and get it back in the wild, that’s what keeps me going,” she said.  Moore, who doesn’t take a wage for the work she does, said she considers moments like this her “pay.”  Sparky is one of eight eagles that had recently been brought into the Raptor Center.  Of them, one was euthanized, one died of its injuries and five others are still recovering.  “Everybody is healing well,” she said. “They are all doing well.”
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Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles, WA
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.