Suggestion re: sign about calling for help if chick falls
Trisha has come up with an interesting suggestion, as anxiety about the possibility of the chicks falling to the ground is increasing. It is worth considering, but I'm not sure of the best approach, so I am sharing this with other nest watchers for your ideas. Let us know what you think.
Trisha wrote: "A thought occurred to me as I was leaving and telling everyone about dialing [#FWC or *FWC] if they saw any mishap with the eagles. We could have a sign that read something like 'Call [#FWC or *FWC] if you see any of the eagles fall or injured.' I even thought we could paint the message on the backs of the signs (the brown side) that are already there. At least anyone there watching who may not have seen your site or hasn't talked to one of us would know what to do in case of an accident."
Mary Lou and I watched the nest from 9:00 to 11:00 AM this morning. We, too, had a bit of a scare. There were 5 or 6 of us there. The chicks had been fed and Hope became extremely frisky, jumping and flapping on the far right side of the nest. Justice just watched from the opposite side. The wind was quite gusty, blowing from left to right and a couple of times it blew Hope almost to the edge. All of us looked away for a minute or two, as we were talking about something, and suddenly there was only little Justice, still sitting in place, with Hope nowhere in sight. About 15-20 minutes passed with no sign of the larger chick. We all thought it had disappeared too suddenly and really feared she had fallen to the ground. One watcher called one of the City Commissioners to get Shawn Denton's phone number, as he wanted to get permission or assistance in reaching the nest tree to look for her. Thank goodness, but right in the middle of his conversation a wing popped up on the right side of the nest!
We must follow some guidelines to prevent such a false alarm, as Michele also went a half hour on Saturday without seeing either chick. I'm afraid other observers who are not accustomed to the birds' habits could make unnecessary calls. Maybe the message should be to report the incident if a chick is seen falling to the ground, or if both chicks are not seen over the space of one hour. The most important time would be in the afternoon, as a grounded eaglet would have to be rescued before nightfall to protect it from predators such as foxes and bobcats that surely visit the nest tree to pick up scraps.
Perhaps we should get permission from someone in the City to enter the posted area to confirm that an eagle is down. Of course, it should never be handled, as its talons can cause severe injuries. A first step might be to call the Police non-emergency number (954-431-2200) for advice and assistance. A number of City firemen and police are already regular "unofficial" watchers. The city might be provided with the other contact numbers to avoid "false alarms."
I know that many of us are spending time watching outside of the "scheduled" hours, and a number of the "regulars" who are not on this list could be provided with information. The more eyes on the nest, the better. I am copying all the watchers and other interested parties with your suggestion, to see if they can offer more concrete advice, perhaps based upon their own experience.
Note that the cell numbers for the FWS emergency line are *FWC and #FWC, or 888-404-3922. Brian Mealey's (the biologist who said he would respond to retrieve a fallen eaglet) phone number is 305-975-0200.
Miramar, Florida & North Aurora, Illinois
Re: Suggestion re: sign about calling for help if chick falls
I'm not sure what the best way to handle this would be, but I can say that if I had phoned every time I did not see both chicks over the space of one hour, I probably would have called over 10 times now. For example, today, shortly after the 1:30 feeding, both chicks "disappeared" for 1 hour and 20 minutes.