Tragedy at Metairie Eagle Nest: 3-month-old American Bald Eagle dies unexpectedly. Neighborhood in shock.

State News

Rick Erbach Photography

METAIRIE, La. — For the third time in just a little over a year, tragedy and sadness at an American Bald Eagles nest nestled in a quiet Metairie neighborhood.

Residents in the tight-knit community noticed something was wrong with the young eagle on Monday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, residents saw it flying around the neighborhood, walking in a backyard, and landing in trees. Then later in the day, a resident noticed the three-month-old eagle couldn’t hold its head up in the nest.

2021 Juvenile Eagle. Rick Erbach Photography

On Tuesday, one of the neighbors noticed the juvenile’s wing was hanging over the nest and was not moving.

The U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries were contacted. Residents say an agent granted approval for Abita Tree Service of Metairie to use an articulated lift boom to hoist a wildlife expert 50 feet in the air to check on the young eagle.

Owner Adam Kershenstine said they found the young eagle dead in the nest. They carefully brought the eagle back down.

Deceased baby eagle being removed from nest. Photo Courtesy: P. J. Hahn

The bird was turned over to a U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries agent who will take the eagle to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine where they will try to determine how and why the young eagle died.

The Metairie eagle’s nest has had its hardships over the past year.

Hurricane Zeta, packing winds over 100 mph in late October, destroyed the nest.

The American Bald eagle couple who have called Metairie home for about 5 years, quickly rebuilt a new home in the same tree.

Rebuilding her nest. Rick Erbach Photography

A few months later in late January or early February, excited residents had their first glimpse of an eaglet in the nest with its proud parents. News of the eaglet quickly spread. Folks out for a stroll, a walk with their dog, or driving by would stop and hope to see the baby.

Earlier this month, the eagle fledged–flying from the nest for the first time.  Over the past few weeks, residents saw the young eagle flying with one of its parents in the neighborhood.  As word spread early Wednesday evening that the young eagle was dead, sadness filled the street as neighbors gathered.

Rebuilding her nest. Rick Erbach Photography

This is the second nesting season in a row that a tragedy struck a young eagle at this nest. On April 4, 2020, wildlife experts rescued a fledging from the same nest. Photographers who regularly line the street near the nest hoping to take a picture of the eagle family noticed something was prohibiting a young eagle from flying.

A rescue was attempted, but the panicked eagle flew out of the nest. She was found a few blocks away.  A wildlife veterinarian removed a fishing lure embedded in her young breast. She was treated at LSU and spent the next month at a wildlife rehabilitation center. She was released and was back flying last Spring in the Metairie neighborhood.

Fishing lure removed from Eagle’s breast. Rick Erbach Photography

As night fell on the Metairie neighborhood Wednesday, the eagle’s mother returned to her empty nest. She stood on the edge of the nest and looked all around her.  One neighbor claims she saw the mother eagle earlier perched on a nearby tree watching the commotion near her nest.

This American Bald Eagle couple leave the neighborhood in early May. Avian experts believe they migrate to Canada for the Summer. So far, they have returned to the Metairie nest for the past few years in September-October where they add to their nest and have eaglets in January and February.  

The American Bald Eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007. Nonetheless, they are protected by several federal laws. A recent update found that the population of bald eagles in the lower 48 United States has quadrupled since 2009.

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