Stories of invalid Short-toed Eagles
This story is published on the Infos Étang de Berre website:
• René Coste, 2010 – Le sauvetage de «Balthazar», le circaète blessé, les amoureux des beaux oiseaux et, un vent de colère [Salvation of «Balthazar» – a wounded Short-toed Eagle] – (Fr).
It has reminded me a story of «Jeanne» – an invalid young Short-toed Eagle, which had been found at the nesting site with a broken right wing in 2008. A short article about the bird was written by me and was kindly translated by Bernard Joubert for its publication in the 8th issue of La Plume du Circaète. The eagle had lived 2 years and finally died on August 5th 2010 in the Odessa Zoo.
Veterinarians made the post-mortem examination, which showed not only a reason of the death – the bad condition of the bird’s digestive system, but also that «Jeanne» had actually been a male. My mistake in determination of the bird’s sex had been made because of several reasons:
1) its weight (more than 2 kg) had been the main cause to determine it as a female / but the juvenile Short-toed Eagles often are overweight (Petretti, 2008);
2) a Raptors expert in the Zoo had examined the bird’s condition right after its arrival and hadn’t decided it had been overfed / but he had a great experience in keeping eagles of the Aquila genus in captivity, but Short-toed Eagles have rather different weight/size ratio;
3) its behaviours had subjectively reminded me behaviours of a female cat, I had not expected such ability to learn from a male / but males’ and females’ roles of cats and of Short-toed Eagles are different too, duties of both sexes are much more equal for the Eagles.
I still have the fondest memories of that young eagle and still have strong personal impressions of that close communion with the wild animal at my home. Having an experience of keeping different animals I would like to liken the Short-toed Eagle with a cat. This creature is curious, steady, strong and independent, ready to contact with you on its own terms, preferring to look straight into your eyes – I don’t know what it is looking for there. Comparing the eagle with a Common Buzzard we could say it had a phlegmatic temperament, but it’s strange to use this epithet for a bird showing a lightning reaction. Maybe just because of its young age the eagle quickly accommodated itself to people and to the human world, but quickly became wilder without close contacts with them similarly to other birds of prey. It was very interesting to offer the eagle a special branch carrying it to a perch near the window and to see how the bird decided to use it or not, how quickly without the ability of flight the eagle adjusted such kind of transport. I had personal view of the Short-toed Eagle as of the highly specialized being with poor potential for an adaptation, thus with poor potential for the survival in the changeable world. After a few months of the eagle’s living in my flat and of the watching its behaviour my view was completely inverted. I met the eagle in the Zoo almost a year after its departure and immediately knew it by glance of the eyes, by its activity and movements in spite of changed plumage. The eagle’s individuality was obvious for me. It was a striking instance of a personification of the Life Force.