“You’ve gotta help me,” said my rehabber friend Lisa Acton. “There’s a guy in Ossining and he swears he has two baby eagles in his back yard. I told him they’re probably not eagles, but he says they’re definitely eagles. He said they were so hungry they ate ham and fruit off a plate.”

“They what?” I said, alarmed.

“He said they were screaming for food and following him around the yard, so he gave them ham and fruit on a plate.”

“Oh, great,” I said. “But what about Erin? She’s right there in Ossining.”

Erin Baker is another rehabber, as well as the Environmental Educator at Teatown Lake Reservation. As it turns out, summer camp was going full force, so no one could leave and pick up the ham and fruit-eating baby eagles. No other wildlife rehabilitators could respond to the call, and Lisa was two hours away. She gave me the cell phone number of Paul, the owner of the yard.

“Can you put them in a box?” I asked him. “I don’t want to get all the way down there and find out they’ve disappeared.”

“They been here two days,” said Paul, who was from Ecuador. “And I don’ want to touch them, you know? Because they have big nails on their feets, and they gonna mess me up.”


Ten minutes from Paul’s house the downpour began. Paul led me across the yard to the edge of the woods and pointed to the baby eagle, pictured at left. I guess in the heat of the moment, everything looks like a baby eagle; but it was actually an almost-fledgling Cooper’s Hawk. Bald Eagles weigh 8 to 10 pounds, Cooper’s Hawks weigh 8 to 14 ounces. At least it was a raptor – a caller once hysterically demanded I come to her house and remove the eagle menacing her, and it turned out to be a brown racing pigeon who had simply lost his way and was walking around her driveway.

The rain eventually stopped, but we couldn’t find the other one. I delivered the bedraggled, skinny little fledgling to Erin, who is feeding her up and – we hope – temporarily giving the parents one less hungry mouth to feed.

We never get the full story. Did something happen to one of the parents? To both of them?

Will Paul eventually call and ask us to come pick up the other eagle?

Stay tuned.


Written by Suzie
Suzie Gilbert is a wild bird rehabilitator whose shameful secret is that on more than one occasion she has received a female LBJ, or a fledgling whatever, and has been completely unable to ID it. Luckily she has birder friends who will rush to her aid, although she must then suffer their mockery. She is the author of her bird-rehabbing memoir Flyaway (HarperCollins) and the children's book Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books). Her recent suspenseful, bird-filled adventure novel Unflappable (Perch Press) was selected by Audubon Magazine as one of their Three Best Summer Reads of 2020. She lives in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley and is always up for a good hike.