Circle of life: 4 more bald eagles found dead in Delaware, 2 hatch in nation’s capital

© American Eagle Foundation.
Almost a month after 13 of the birds died in nearby Maryland, four dying bald eagles could not be saved in rural Delaware. Authorities are puzzled as to what is killing the birds, the national symbol of the US. At the same time, two eaglets hatched in DC.

Workers with the Tri-State Bird Rescue, a private nonprofit based in the area, found one dead eagle on the road near Dagsboro in Delaware’s Sussex County on Sunday. Three more birds were found in a nearby field and could not be revived. A group of eight eagles was found alive in the area, but three flew away before they could be taken in for examination. Of the remaining five, two are receiving medical care at Tri-State.

The new deaths occurred in the Piney Neck area of Sussex County about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Federalsburg, where 13 bald eagles were found dead last month.

“We don’t know how many eagles may have been affected, so we are asking the public to notify us immediately should they see birds that appear sick,” Sergeant John McDerby of Delaware’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police said in a statement.  “We’re also asking people not to attempt to capture or handle any eagles they encounter on the ground. These eagles will already be distressed so handling them could cause additional injuries to the eagle and possibly to anyone trying to help them.”

Since bald eagles are protected under federal law, the US Fish and Wildlife Service joined the Delaware investigation on Monday.

Federal investigators have determined that the bald eagles found near Federalsburg earlier had not died due to natural causes, but have not released any details as to what might have killed them. A reward of up to $25,000 has been offered for any information that leads to solving that case.

While eagles on the Delmarva Peninsula are dying, however, there is life just a few miles west in the nation’s capital. Over the weekend, two bald eagle chicks hatched to a couple named “Mr. President” and “The First Lady” at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. The first steps of DC2 and DC3, as the baby eagles have been provisionally named, can be seen live on web cameras operated by the American Eagle Foundation.

Once considered on the brink of extinction, bald eagles have recovered well enough to be removed from the endangered species list, although they are still protected by laws dating back to 1918.

Established as the national bird of the United States in 1782, the bald eagle adorns most official seals of the US government, clutching an olive branch and 13 arrows symbolizing the 13 original states of the union.