A tree branch on which a juvenile bald eagle was perched dipped but didn’t break as the bird fell to its death in Kirkland’s Heritage Park, an eyewitness said today.
Kirkland resident Tim Forbes said he had gone to the park early Monday morning to walk his dog and watch two four-month-old eaglets and their parents. The young siblings were perched in separate trees after taking flights when one of them attempted to spring into flight.
The branch it was on, possibly too flimsy for the bird’s weight, dipped down and the young eagle lost its balance, Forbes said. The bird fell head first “and just bounced off some limbs going down and couldn’t catch himself.”
Forbes and a jogger in the park went over to the bird, which was lying face-down on the ground with its wings spread. They saw it take its last breaths, and Forbes called 911. City parks officials later turned the bird’s carcass over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Forbes’ first-hand account differed slightly from a Kirkland police description of the event, which said the branch had broken. Lt. John Haslip confirmed that Forbes was an eyewitness to the bird’s death, and said the conflicting information from police was apparently due to a misunderstanding.
Forbes, who has watched the eagles every morning, said they tend to crash-land on limbs as they’re learning to fly and “their judgment on limbs is not the best.”
“It breaks your heart, it really does.” Forbes said of the eaglet’s death. “It brings a tear to my eye thinking about how fragile nature is.”