The baby bald eagle lay dehydrated and undernourished beneath its nest near Sycamore Canyon outside Clarkdale.
At just 10 weeks old, the anxious youngster wanted to fly out of its nest, but its wings weren’t yet strong enough and it fell to the ground.
Although the bird’s parents were not around, two Arizona Game and Fish nest watchers monitoring the eaglet were.
They called a biologist for a rescue.
“This eaglet needed supplemental feeding and special care,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, a Game and Fish eagle biologist who saved the bird.
“If it had stayed on the ground without our help, there was a decent chance that it would have died,” he said.
Today the eaglet, now 13 weeks old, is healthy and soaring around Arizona after being nursed to health at Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation in Scottsdale.
Volunteers gave the eaglet 24-hour care and plenty to eat.
“When it came in, it was real dehydrated,” said Megan Mosby, executive director of the rehabilitation center, which assists about 4,000 animals a year. “It was real thin. We fattened it up.”
Once the eagle had recovered, Game and Fish took the nestling back home. Jacobson rappelled down to its nest, high on a cliff and released the bird.
“The nest watchers stayed out there and continued to watch the bird and feed it for an additional week after we brought it back from rehab,” Jacobson said. “As of last Sunday, the eagle was flying around real strong and perching high.”
Arizona currently has 42 breeding pairs of endangered bald eagles that are monitored through the Nestwatch program from February through May.
The eaglet is the 46th nestling to be saved since the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch program started in 1978. That’s about 10 percent of all the eagles that have lived to fly on their own in Arizona since the program started.