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No worries for ice-covered bald eagle spotted in Chilliwack

The large raptors actually can survive winter conditions remarkably well
Photo taken Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:30 a.m. The eagle was reported to OWL rehabilitation but was able to shake off ice and fly away before the naturalist arrived. (Sylvia Janz photo)

Chilliwack resident Sylvia Janz captured a photograph last week of a bald eagle covered in ice.

The large raptor was so crusted with frozen water when she saw it at the corner of Knight Road and Chilliwack River Road that she assumed it was in distress.

The eagle was spotted at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 7. She called Delta-based OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured raptors and who have a 24-hour emergency line.

But amazingly, before someone from OWL made it out to Chilliwack, the bird rescued itself.

“As we were waiting for her, we watched from a close distance as the eagle began moving to a tree-sheltered area and gradually shook off the ice,” Janz said. “After a few tentative, slippery steps on the ice, he was able to fly away.”

To raptor experts, what happened might not be too surprising. Bald eagles have incredibly insulating feathers, and they can lift and lower their feathers to regulate heat.

After an eagle-cam video seven years ago in Pennsylvania captured two bald eagles sitting on eggs in a nest up to their heads in snow, naturalist Jack Hubley told a local media outlet about just how well-suited bald eagles are to the snowiest of winters.

“You could put an eagle in a chest freezer and open it the next morning and the eagle would be standing there looking at you,” naturalist Jack Hubley told Lancaster Online.

Not that you should do that. Don’t do that.

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