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. Fricka my friend

    Is this where the line forms for making comments? y n (circle one)

    April 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Safety Sam says

    Those eagles need to be more careful. Planes can be dangerous.

    April 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Avian Al-qaeda

    Praise Allah!
    Our brother Mustafa the Eagle has been fooling you American infidels for many weeks and finally succeeded in his suicide mission to become martyr.
    His last words..."I keel you!"

    April 27, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Big Paulie

    Killing a bald eagle on purpose carries one year of prison and a $10,000 fine, why is there no punishment for inadvertent killing? If I hit and kill somebody with my car I'll get slapped with a vehicular manslaughter charge, why is the airline subject to no fines?

    April 27, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      You're joking right?

      April 27, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      If someone runs out in front of your car from behind a parked car or bush and you kill them while obeying traffic laws, I'd be amazed if you were charged. Please tell me how you could avoid that incident, and likewise how a plane can avoid a bird, even if it IS an eagle?

      April 27, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • PsuPhilly

      you do know that if you were driving and hit a bald eagle that you wouldn't get a fine right?? I sure hope that you don't have kids

      April 27, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • tina

      this is truly a heart breaking story....i've been following these birds, completely broke down when i heard the news about her. I work with birds of prey including an injured Bald Eagle, and I am just devastated! Can't even think straight upset over this. RIP mama eagle...and my heart goes out to the eaglets, daddy eagle, and all who have been following this wonderful family of eagles.

      April 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      The Mother Earth people will get a lawyer to sue. After all, the eagle had the right-of-way !

      April 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The vanishing Euro

    I think, I could be mistaken that for the last two years it was said: "the Euro" is here to stay.

    So then it is the definition of the Euro that changes:

    Something like this > California uses the Euro now and Germany.

    See? the Euro is indeed here to stay.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Eliana

    @BigPaulie, it's highly likely that a person who strikes & kills somebody else while driving a car is an offense that can be attributed to human error. A pilot flying a plane is not only traveling much faster, but probably wouldn't even see a bird. Holding a pilot accountable for that is almost too ridiculous to even fathom. Ha. I'm amazed that you came up with such a thought!

    April 27, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Papa John

    Who was the air traffic controller monitoring air traffic? Some raptors would like a word with that person.

    April 27, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Master Po

    I know some Eagle-Claw Kung Fu, will that help?

    April 27, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. dee

    The eagle knows the risks. This is why both parents sit on the eggs and take care of them. It is sad but life is so

    April 27, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. TheBroker

    Who cares?

    April 27, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. TVC 1 5

    Whoe oh..did the web cam survive... .?

    April 27, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. Major.Tom Bowie

    OH..MY... .

    April 27, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dos XX

    As interesting of a man as I am..I could not save senior bald eagle... .

    April 27, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. PsuPhilly

    annnddd Boom goes the dynamite

    April 27, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |

    no..... sad...

    April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
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