'People are really upset about it': Mooseheart bald eagle dies after being struck by car
The Kane County area lost a local wildlife celebrity when one of the adult bald eagles that nests near the Mooseheart football field was killed when it was struck by a car.
"It's sad. People are really upset about it," said David Soderstrom, a St. Charles resident and freelance photographer who has photographed the nest and offspring of the "Papa" and "Mama" bald eagles that have nested in a dead pine tree. "They're kind of like local celebrities. They've been there seven years. A lot of people have been watching them for years."
The adult eagle - Soderstrom and other nestwatchers believe it to be the female - was struck and killed on Orchard Road around 6:30 to 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Cathy Pollack, a biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2000 whose duties include tracking bald eagle populations and more than 30 nests in the six-county area around Chicago, said officials believe the deceased eagle was from the Mooseheart nest, which contains two eaglets.
A woman who tended to the mortally wounded eagle said she saw the eagle diving toward the road, and after a car drove past, she saw the eagle lying on the pavement, Pollack said.
The woman called 911 and used her car to block traffic until help arrived, but the eagle died before it could be taken to a rehabilitation center.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife had the eagle's body, which will be sent to a repository in Colorado where Native Americans may petition for some of the eagle's feathers to use in religious ceremonies, Pollack said.
Bald eagles nest near bodies of water and prefer fish but eat smaller rodents and also feed opportunistically on roadkill, Pollack said.
The remaining adult eagle was spotted Thursday feeding both eaglets, she said.
News of the eagle's death spread on social media, where some people have volunteered to bring fish to the base of the tree where the eagles are nesting.
Pollack discourages that idea because the eaglets can become dangerously socialized into approaching and taking food from humans.
Pollack said the eaglets are a couple of weeks from leaving the nest and are no longer small and vulnerable, where they could become food for other birds if the adult is away.
"One adult can successfully finish raising those eaglets," she said. "It's more stressful with one adult compared to two, but only time will tell. It's so sad and unfortunate and I feel for the dead eagle and its family, but we're not going to step in (and take the eaglets away)."
Pollack could not immediately specify the gender of the deceased eagle. Wednesday night, Soderstrom and others saw only one adult at the nest tending to the eaglets. Female adult bald eagles are larger than male adults and it appeared the male was present, he said.
"(The eaglets) are pretty far along. They're only a couple weeks away from flying. They've been fed pretty well up to now," Soderstrom said. "Everybody's worried about them."