Barry Adamczyk has come up close and personal with Oak Lawn’s wildlife. He’s fished raccoons out of attics, chased opossum from garages, and dealt with foxes, but he never got a call like the one he received Thursday morning from a resident reporting an injured eagle in his backyard.
“My first thought, ‘yeah, right,’” Adamczyk said, the animal control officer for Oak Lawn. “I doubt it’s an eagle. We get all kinds of calls for hawks."
When Adamczyk arrived at the man’s house near 89th Place and Ridgeland, he pointed out the bird sitting on the chain link fence.
“It had a white head. It was definitely a big bird,” Adamczyk said. “I thought, ‘Holy cow, this is a bald eagle.”
The homeowner told Adamczyk that he’d been watching the big fella in his backyard for a few days.
“He was flapping around,” Adamczyk said.
Adamczyk called in another animal control officer from Stickney Township for reinforcement. When Rob Negrete arrived in the resident’s backyard his first reaction was: “Oh. my God, that’s a bald eagle.”
Both animal control officers were beside themselves with excitement. The eagle only had enough lift to get four feet off the ground -- about as high as the resident’s chain link fence.READ: Bald Eagles Nesting in Palos Township (Palos Patch, December 2012)
“He looked like he had a broken wing,” Adamczyk said.
Adamczyk and his colleague gathered some equipment for the wildlife rescue.
“We weren’t going to sit there and debate who got to pick him up,” Adamczyk said. “I had the net and the binos, and Rob had the gloves so he just bent down and scooped him up.”
The eagle was definitely aware of what was happening and didn’t put up a fight.
“I don’t think his actions were normal so he could have been dehydrated,” Adamczyk said. “It was easy going, he didn’t try to nip. The whole rescue took about five minutes.”
The animal control officers snapped a few photos of the bald eagle before placing it in a large dog carrier.
“Other than a broken wing, he seemed in good health,” Adamcyzk said.
The eagle was brought to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in DuPage County, where hopefully it will be nursed back to health. Animal rescue officials were not immediately available for comment on the eagle’s condition.
Adamczyk believes the eagle to be a young male.
In recent years, bald eagles have been growing in numbers and have become more common in parts of the continental United States.
Bald eagles have been popping up around Chicago’s North Side and near the 135th Street and LaGrange area.
Chris Merenowicz, the director of resource management for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, called 2012's Palos’ eagle family “an exciting find.” The eagle family was expected to reside in its nest mere miles away from bustling Orland Square Mall through the end of summer.
Bald eagles stand about three feet tall and have a wingspan of six to eight feet. They were once a fairly common sight in the area, but over decades became increasingly scarce and were placed on the U.S. endangered species list in 1967. They weren't removed from the list until 2007.
The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains a bald eagle page on its site that is updated with news on local eagles.
Seeing the bald eagle was a nice prelude to “baby season,” when it’s time for Adamczyk to start shooing baby opossum out of storage sheds.
“I never though I would come face to face with one,” Adamcyzk said. “It’s a huge great thing to see.”