Bald Eagle fledgling rescued at Raystown Lake Dam

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
Published July 2, 2021
Updated: July 2, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District staff, and Pennsylvania Game Commission officers successfully coordinated the rescue of a grounded bald eaglet fledgling (or flying away from) the eagle's nest at Raystown Lake Dam, June 29, 2021.

Brent Chronister, Raystown Lake's head dam operator, first noticed the eaglet near the dam's spillway and within the proximity of the eagle's nest. Once the eaglet was spotted, Alicia Palmer, Raystown Lake's Natural Resource specialist, and Laney Reasner, Student Conservation Association intern, quickly sprang into action. Mike College, Pennsylvania Game Commission officer, assisted in the rescue and safely captured the fledgling eaglet, who could not fly for unknown reasons.

After the rescue, the eaglet was transported to Centre Wildlife Care where it is receiving necessary care after testing positive for West Nile Virus.

The nest at Raystown Lake Dam has been operational since 1999 and has fledged 37 eaglets since. A mated pair of bald eagles have been nesting at the Raystown Lake dam since its development. In 2019, the pair rebuilt their nest in a new location on a large pine tree above the Hydroelectric Power Plant. The pair has since raised six eaglets.

The eaglets have become a huge tourist attraction to wildlife photographers and nature enthusiasts visiting the area. Since the pair's relocation, visitors have a better eye-level view of the nest from the road on the dam, providing the unique opportunity to watch the eaglets as they grow.

The increased visibility of the nest not only benefits visitors but also helps USACE staff monitor the eaglets as they begin to spread their wings and learn to fly. Throughout the Raystown Lake project, there are currently four Bald Eagle nests.

USACE staff advises the public to prioritize their safety if they come across an injured eagle. Like most wildlife, an injured eagle can be defensive and dangerous.

As a reminder, it is common for an eagle to sit in one place for several hours. However, if an eagle or other raptor remains in one place, especially on the ground, for more than 24 hours and does not fly away on approach or is seemingly injured, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or a state game conservation officer for assistance.

Please keep in mind the following:

  • Eagles have incredibly sharp talons and beaks that can cause serious injury quickly.
  • Unless there is visible injury, a bird on the ground is not necessarily a sign that it needs help.
  • Do not attempt to capture an eagle unless directed to do so.
  • If directed to capture an eagle, be sure to have protective gloves, eyewear, a towel, and a cage to transport the animal.

Bald Eagles are solely native to North America, making them the United States national emblem, representing our nation's strength, determination, and independence. In Pennsylvania, Bald Eagles generally fledge from their nest by July 4 (also known as our nation’s Independence Day. Coincidence?).

Mike College, Pennsylvania Game Commission officer, holds a Bald Eagle following its rescue at Raystown Lake Dam, June 29, 2021.

Allen Gwinn, Supervisory Park Ranger

Release no. 21-040