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. raj

    No..this was a SUICDIE..This is what happens when you are on reality television for so such a long time..This bird just couldnt handle the pressure... The pain and shame was too much...

    May 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Klaark

    Not too many "Dhuruh, peeple r dying in da south y is an eeegle in da noows1!11" comments. Odd.

    May 9, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    Who cares about the 21 people not injured, poor bird!!

    May 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jngsmspace

    That's just wrong :(

    May 11, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hasher Iva

    Hmm... Apparently daddy eagles are better daddy's than some human dad's.

    May 12, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bear

    This is yet another reason why the human race is a mistake. The world was a heckuva lot better and beautiful place without us. God bless Greenpeace and terrorist groups who fight urban sprawl and anti-environmentalists. Want to save the world? Burn down new housing and businesses in the Rocky's and desert southwest. See anyone cutting trees down? Annie, get your gun. Find us on the net; join us!!!

    May 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Bear – you sound like a complete idiot. In fact you are an idiot. I also forwarded your post to the department of homeland security, since you are obvious support of terrorist organizations like ELF who advocate the destruction of any residential and commercial development.

      May 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • faded

      Way to take one accidental road kill and use it as a pulpit to preach misanthropy. If you hate humanity so much why not stop using the computer technologies and electricity that allows you to make such ridiculous, overblown statements.

      Yes, the bird getting killed is sad. No, it does not emphatically prove that humanity is a scourge on the face of the planet.

      May 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Argle Bargle

    RIP, beautiful, majestic bird.

    May 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J

    Al-Qaeda ?

    May 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. faded

    I won't feel pity until I see a birth certificate proving that was a American bald eagle and the death photos proving it actually died.

    May 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kryptonite

    If this was a family of Black Birds, the daddy would have ran off months ago! :D

    May 17, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

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  11. KC

    Oh dear. I'm sorry that happened.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. toad

    i am surprised noone wants to outlaw airplanes yet!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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  13. db

    From what I head US Airways if filing suit with the Natural Resources in that their plane received an unprovoked attack and suffered damages. They say this kind of behavior cannot be tollerated and they will respond with larger aircraft and more rude service!

    May 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bear

    Im a little Teapot short and stout. Here is my handle her is my spout. blah blah blah blah blah blah tip.. me over and pour... me.. out.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
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