Despite efforts of drivers and law enforcement to save a bald eagle hit by a car in Macon on Sunday, the bird didn't make it.
The eagle was taken to the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University, but it had to be euthanized. That's what veterinary assistant Marcia Gannon said in a voice message. She said the bird was "not likely to have function of his fractured wing." It was held overnight Sunday, and after further examination Monday the decision was made to put it down.
The bird was hit by a car about 11:30 a.m. Sunday on Sardis Church Road, just west of Interstate 75. Several motorists along with Bibb County sheriff's deputies stopped to help. They stayed with it for about an hour, giving it water and providing shade with towels until a Department of Natural Resources biologist could get there to transport it.
Sonja Adams, manager of the Bibb County Sheriff's Office Animal Enforcement Division, was off duty but happened to be in the area when the call came over.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The motorist who struck it did not stop. A witness who saw it said the car clipped the bird, which was eating a dead armadillo alongside the road, and it flew up as the car went by.
Injured wildlife, including various types of eagles, are not uncommon calls for animal control, Adams said, but she had never been to a call about a bald eagle.
Ordinarily there is a local licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist that can be called but not for the federally protected bald eagle. It could only be picked up by DNR, and it took about an hour for a representative to arrive.
Meanwhile, Adams, two deputies and the drivers did their best to help the bird and keep it calm. Adams used a bottle to give it water, and the eagle opened its beak to let her drop water in. Others kept it shaded by holding up towels.
"It was awesome to run into people who were willing to help and stay in 90 degree weather and hold up towels for a bird," she said. "It was people coming together."
Theron Menken, the DNR biologist who picked up the bird, said bald eagles commonly eat dead animals just as vultures do. And, like vultures, they also get hit by cars driving by. He urged people to always slow down when they see such birds alongside the road whether vultures or eagles.
He said five bald eagles were hit last year by cars near the Alabama line. This was the first one in recent memory in the Macon area, he said.
Bald eagles are on the comeback in Georgia. In the 1970s there were no known active nests in the state, but last year 218 were identified. A bald eagle was spotted at Houston Lake in Houston County earlier this year.