Rescued eaglet taken under wing of surrogate bald eagle parent at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

After a bit of a bumpy start in life, a baby eagle is gaining strength and skills with help from a surrogate parent and some human handlers.Not long after it hatched, the last of three spring eagle hatchlings fell from its Lake Natoma nest on April 27 and spent an estimated 10-12 hours hanging in a precarious position.People watching a nest camera and observing below eventually realized the creature needed rescuing and a large-scale effort resulted in the eaglet being pulled safely from the tree where it fell.State and federal wildlife specialists decided the creature would need some interim care instead of immediate renesting with its family and that care is happening at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility.Video captured for KCRA 3 by the center’s executive director, Catherine Mendez, showed both the inside of the eaglet’s temporary home and the eaglet’s surrogate parent.Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care executive director, Catherine Mendez, takes a camera inside the area where the baby bald eagle is staying with a surrogate parent. Watch in the video player below.Em, the fully grown eagle in the video, is one of the center’s retired wildlife ambassadors and he’s now tasked with showing the eaglet how to be an eagle.“We really hope Em is able to integrate with this eaglet and what that means is teaching him how to vocalize, really understanding that you are the same species as myself,” Mendez said.The relationship is off to a good start, according to Mendez, with Em taking the baby bald eagle under its wing.“This is Em’s first time being a surrogate, and so, although we’re really optimistic and excited, the welfare of Em and the eaglet is our top priority,” Mendez said. “How is Em adjusting to the eaglet, and how is the eaglet adjusting to Em.”For now, the eaglet will stay at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care until it’s ready to be placed back with its family over Lake Natoma, with the goal being to release the eaglet in the same location where rescuers found it at the end of April.“As soon as he’s ready, we’re going to return him to the wild so he can actually learn from his brothers and his parents,” Mendez said.It’s a reunion that could happen within just a few months, according to Mendez.“The best care is with their family, not us,” Mendez said. “That’s always our main goal.”Wildlife experts believe that once they are able to re-nest the eaglet with its parents, the eaglet will likely recognize its parents and their vocalizations, and the parents will recognize their baby eagle.See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

After a bit of a bumpy start in life, a baby eagle is gaining strength and skills with help from a surrogate parent and some human handlers.

Not long after it hatched, the last of three spring eagle hatchlings fell from its Lake Natoma nest on April 27 and spent an estimated 10-12 hours hanging in a precarious position.

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People watching a nest camera and observing below eventually realized the creature needed rescuing and a large-scale effort resulted in the eaglet being pulled safely from the tree where it fell.

State and federal wildlife specialists decided the creature would need some interim care instead of immediate renesting with its family and that care is happening at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility.

Video captured for KCRA 3 by the center’s executive director, Catherine Mendez, showed both the inside of the eaglet’s temporary home and the eaglet’s surrogate parent.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care executive director, Catherine Mendez, takes a camera inside the area where the baby bald eagle is staying with a surrogate parent. Watch in the video player below.


Em, the fully grown eagle in the video, is one of the center’s retired wildlife ambassadors and he’s now tasked with showing the eaglet how to be an eagle.

“We really hope Em is able to integrate with this eaglet and what that means is teaching him how to vocalize, really understanding that you are the same species as myself,” Mendez said.

The relationship is off to a good start, according to Mendez, with Em taking the baby bald eagle under its wing.

“This is Em’s first time being a surrogate, and so, although we’re really optimistic and excited, the welfare of Em and the eaglet is our top priority,” Mendez said. “How is Em adjusting to the eaglet, and how is the eaglet adjusting to Em.”

For now, the eaglet will stay at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care until it’s ready to be placed back with its family over Lake Natoma, with the goal being to release the eaglet in the same location where rescuers found it at the end of April.

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“As soon as he’s ready, we’re going to return him to the wild so he can actually learn from his brothers and his parents,” Mendez said.

It’s a reunion that could happen within just a few months, according to Mendez.

“The best care is with their family, not us,” Mendez said. “That’s always our main goal.”

Wildlife experts believe that once they are able to re-nest the eaglet with its parents, the eaglet will likely recognize its parents and their vocalizations, and the parents will recognize their baby eagle.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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