An injured baby bald eagle rescued in Bland County over the weekend is recuperating at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro. The bird suffered a left leg fracture that is slated to be surgically repaired today by a staff veterinarian.

Members of the Riverbound X-Stream Fly Fishing group found the bird on the ground Saturday as they walked along Wolf Creek. They called conservation police officer Craig Chillcott, who arranged for the eaglet to be transported to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke.

“The nest looked destroyed,” said Sabrina Garvin, center director. “We don’t know how long it was down; it was emaciated.”

Gavin said the bird weighed about 8 pounds. The normal weight for a bird its age is about 10 pounds, she added.

Gavin said the bird was a juvenile not ready to leave the nest. She said recent high winds might have toppled the nest, which had been in a sycamore tree for eight years, according to property owner Melinda Belcher. The nest was visible from southbound I-77 past the South Gap exit and rest area.

“We assume it’s probably a little over a month old,” she said. “It still had down feathers. They stay with the parents about three months; that’s a bit longer than most birds. When they are old enough, they will sit on the edge of the nest and flap their wings (as they learn to fly). It only takes one gust, and down he comes.”

Belcher was on the scene when Chillcott put the eaglet in a cat carrier and prepared it for transport.

“I couldn’t get over how big his feet were,” she said. “I have chickens, but none of my chickens have feet like that. It was a big as a chicken. They won’t leave unless their food source is gone or their nest is destroyed, so I guess we are done. At least that’s what my eagle people tell me.”

Wildlife officials hope not.

Gavin said more bald eagles are moving into Southwest Virginia.

“We are excited to know they are here, and hopefully, this baby is going to make it,” she said.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has labeled the bird Bald Eagle #19-0761. Officials will post updates on the eagle’s progress on the center’s website at www.wildlifecenter.org.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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