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. Psyclops

    Birds are hit with planes all the time. I fail to see how this is news worthy and I suspect half of these stories are made up.

    April 27, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |

    i heard wednesday adams was the pilot of the plane

    April 27, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. G 22

    The eagle is a beautiful bird. Unless you are a snake or a rodent.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Skywatcher221

      In regards to this awful accident, I must say I am wondering why it has not been more News worthy being our National symbol, and the following that this nest has..More time should be spent on this story and follow up than the Royal Wedding is getting..So sad that millions of classrooms will have to tell these children of this, and the news does not have time for it. This is the American Bird lets show some respect..

      April 27, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. ab

    what if the airplane was a windmill and the bird was struck by a rotating blade?

    April 27, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mr Disgusting

    Airplanes 1 Eagles 0

    April 27, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Mr Disgusting

      I meant Jets 1 Eagles 0


      April 27, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |

      Well played, sir. Well played.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |


    if wonder woman was flying her invisible plane and struck a eagle... whould her plane become visable from all the blood n guts?

    April 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genious

      The invisible plane would protect her boobs from being splattered.

      April 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hel

    Yet again our selfish man made technology destroyed what nature created

    April 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Do Something

      Ban US Airways

      April 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chopswell

    Biologists decided to remove the eaglets at 10AM this morning. They felt this will be best for the chicks and the dad can get busy finding himself another mate–since he probably would have had a hard time keeping them all fully nourished.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aramis

    I would like to see Don Trump step up to the plate with solutions. Not with repeated worn out attacks by Sarah Palin.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BarbaraSamburu

    Raptor Resource Project Decorah Eagle Cam . I have been watching 3 eaglets at this site for the last month. They are growing leaps and bounds.

    April 27, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gretchen

    Very sad. But good that the eaglets have a chance to survive! Yay!

    April 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mamacita

    This is all part of God's plan...what do we learn from this? humanity, compassion, to value life more than...things?

    April 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shannlee

    I am from Virginia Beach, VA, and CNN has not updated this story apparently. Biologists decided to remove the eaglets, even though just last night the father was taking care of them. I'm very upset by this, as I think yes, it's nature, but if it was really nature, they would wait and see if the father was willing and able to take care of them. A couple of years ago there was a female that was trying to encroach on the nest, how do they know she won't come back now that there is no female? I'm also wondering now if our Botanical Gardens will have eagles anymore, will he find another mate and come back?

    April 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. splat

    The eagle has landed. So much for the homing device.

    April 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. raven

    A few years ago I heard what I thought was a cat sneezing in the woods. being very far away from civilization i went lookin for it .turns out it was an Eaglet sick on the ground. it was HUGE,prolly 2 feet tall.i doubt the daddy could adequately feed three by himself.

    April 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • crow

      CAW! CAW!

      April 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
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