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.

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Filed under: Animals • Eagles • Nature • Virginia
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. raven

    I think if they wanted to help they shoulda just made more food available for the dad insteada removing the babies.that way theres no human imprinting on the babies but adequate food for all .win-win.

    April 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dubya

    THE STUPID bird knew or should have known that the METAL bird had the right of Way. Just like in IRAQ that dummy Hussein should have known that WE Americans always have the right-of Way and he could not Hide his dangerous NUKES from U.S.....It's not my Fault that we have not found them Yet...but we will...I am NOT responsible for the 5,000 Dead American boyys or the 30,000 amputees,,,They were all Volunteers and knew just what they were Volunteering for...Why are they Whining?..I gave them All some really Cool medals for Valor that they can Impress their Girlfriends with...and hardly any of them sent me a Thank You note...their parents should have raised them to be more responsible and supportive of their Brilliant Leaders who have made them the Heroes that they are Today!!!!

    April 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • goodcyn

      You're an idiot...and obviously a LIB. I wouldn't call that Eagle stupid...I'm sure it was smarter than you. Probably the only reason you haven't been hit by a plane is that you can't fly. I'm surprised you haven't been hit by a bus.

      May 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    @crow, Its nice ta finally have someone I can relate to. Been cawin for weeks with no answer.

    April 28, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. Les

    Has anyone ever noticed how a group of birds will seem to fly with planes (under them) sometimes? I often wonder if they think it is the Big Bird God and they are going up to get a closer look. Anyways, this is sad, watched the babies last year. Guess there won't be a nest or webcam there next year.

    April 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ian Adkins

    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get struck by landing gear.

    Seems U.S. Airways should open an eagle-hatchery to make up for this.

    April 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. colleen

    We will miss you mama eagle! Go Papa and prove that the father can provide for his young. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before the grieving widower finds a new mate if he ever does. No more Eagle cam if he doesn't find one by next year.

    April 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tom

    the bald eegle is the mascots of the usa. It has soft fethers grate eyes and a real danjerus beak. farwell my eegle frend, farwell.

    April 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amanda in IL

    Well there is always the Decorah eagles on ustream to watch. Its still sad tho.

    May 1, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brittany

    Aww. So sad. Wonder how Papa is doing? Probably pretty upset, he lost his wife AND kids. Wonder why they didn't take him to help raise and teach the kids? I suppose it's too disruptive for him, since he wouldn't understand what's going on... very unhappy either way. Will this camera stay on this nest? Will he stay with the nest? If he finds another mate will he come back to this nest next year? I want to know! Will his children get released nearby and will he know them?

    May 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. idrA

    Planes are imbalanced.

    May 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dakota

    MLG, you caused this!

    May 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzman

    Web Eagle, I salute you! Rest now.

    May 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JWits

    It's a conspiracy! They faked the death of the eagle! The eagle lives!

    May 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Oldeye

    This is very sad.
    Wild life is always paying the price for our existence.
    Let's the dead Eagle reproduced.

    May 6, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Liz Shepherd

    Way to go daddy eagle for stepping up to the plate!

    May 8, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
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