Bald eagle with Web following struck, killed by plane
The Norfolk Botanical Garden's Eagle Cam showed the dead eagle's mate back at the nest Tuesday evening, feeding his chicks.
April 26th, 2011
10:01 PM ET

Bald eagle with Web following struck, killed by plane

Biologists believe a bald eagle that was a star of a popular Virginia eagle-watching webcam was killed Tuesday morning, struck by an airplane that was landing at Norfolk International Airport.

A U.S. Airways jet’s landing gear struck and killed a bald eagle as the plane was trying to land, airport official Robert Bowen said. One of the plane's fairings was damaged, but none of the 21 people aboard was hurt.

The eagle, biologists believe, was part of a nesting pair that has been at the nearby Norfolk Botanical Garden since 2003, and was the mother of three chicks that are featured on the garden’s Eagle Cam.

"We are fairly certain that this is the Norfolk Botanical Garden female eagle due to her physical characteristics, size and the fact that she has not been seen at the nest since the strike," said Stephen Living, biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Reese Lukei of the Center for Conservation Biology, said in a written statement Tuesday.

Thousands of bird strikes are reported to the Federal Aviation Administration annually, and even strikes involving the formerly endangered bald eagle aren't unheard of. A different eagle was struck at the Norfolk airport two weeks ago, Bowen said. And 136 bald eagles were reported struck at U.S. airports from 1990 though March 2011, though that might be an undercount because the reports are voluntary and because it's not always clear what kind of bird was struck, according to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database.

This particular eagle, though, had something of a following. The webcam, which has followed the pair's December-June nesting seasons since 2006 and is operated in part by CNN affiliate WVEC, got more than 5 million views in March, the month when this year's chicks hatched, VDGIF spokeswoman Julia Dixon told CNN.

"They told me (about the eagle's death), and I just had to go have a cry," Eagle Cam viewer Linda Esaenyi, a Virginia resident who went to the botanical garden to see the eagles Tuesday, told WVEC. "I was so hurt and disappointed, not for just me but for everybody that watches."

Biologists will help the chicks if the father can't or won't raise them by himself, Dixon said. But on Tuesday evening, the webcam showed that an adult eagle - apparently the father - was back in the nest, feeding what looked like a fish to the eaglets.

- CNN's Devon Sayers contributed to this report.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Eagles • Nature • Virginia
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    RIP Web Eagle.

    April 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Game James

    Salute!

    April 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    This is sad. Poor mama.

    April 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. momo

    U.S. Airways kills the U.S. Icon, ironic?

    April 26, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Galt

      Yes. At least it was not the shock from exorbitant bagage fees...

      May 8, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lou50

    well apparently the eagle father is more responsible than the inner city. anyone have a reason for that?

    April 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • atienne

      I realize that you are a TROLL, but have you EVER actually been to the "Inner City"? Typical Racist BS.

      Is the INNER CITY any worse than poor folks all white trailer parks?

      Get a life. What did that have to do with the eagle. Are you pro life too? How many doctors have you killed in the name of Pro Life?

      While you are spouting off about saving the un-born, why don't you take some of your time, energy and money and actually go see some of the BORN?

      April 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Memitim

      successful troll is successful!

      April 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Junki

      We're an independent label trinyg to make it in this game and the best way to do that is by being more known on youtube.One of the ways we stand out is we help unsigned artists get more fans by uploading their songs for a new fan baseYou can change our future with one simple click.Please thumbs up so other people can see this and check out our channel and comment with feedback if you like,also if you think we could improve.If you like check the other artists we have over 70 vids up!Cheers!

      December 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex Thorn

      atienne –

      Lou was making an observation on the responsibility (or lack there of) of parents, which is a problem in our society particularly in inner city communities. Ignoring the problem is a poor strategy to finding a solution, and this story discusses a situation that many might find relatable. Countering Lou's statement by referencing "poor folks all white trailer parks" does nothing to refute the point he is making. Additionally, criticizing his unstated stance on abortion (which very well may be quite the opposite since his posting provides no insight into his views) actually is quite off-topic.

      Up to you of course, but you may want to think a bit before replying in such an unintelligent manner in the future.

      April 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GREG

    Damn plane!

    April 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    Ironic indeed, momo!

    April 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Seigell

    There's still a good amount of protection for our National Bird, even though they've been delisted from the Endangered Species list. There are strict nesting protection zones established around a great number of Bald Eagle nesting areas. In one case, the Durango – LaPlata Co Airport makes one of its taxiways offlimits during nesting season to limit disruption to an active nest that is just outside the taxiway clearing...

    April 26, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pablo

    Sad 😦

    April 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AviTrap

    After hearing of the hawk that was stuck inside a public building in DC I made a new invention that rescues them. Maybe it would work for airport control...

    April 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jesse Ventura

    THIS WAS NO ACCIDENT

    April 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric P

      LOL no doubt!

      May 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Believer

      That's Awesome!!

      May 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ben Frenklinn

    If the national bird had been a turkey it wouldn't have been flying that high...

    April 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      lol i love your name.

      May 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pseudonym

    Are birds trying to tell us something? Is this a sign?

    April 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sarlok

    A terrible thing that it happens at all. Mortality is just one of those things, though. Glad no one was hurt this time.

    April 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerry

    I hope the baby chicks are rescued from the nest before they die.

    April 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genius

      The father is taking care of them. Why interfere?

      April 27, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5