Juneau Raptor Center gives ‘good old bird’ new display

April 6, 2019
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In this Thursday, March 28, 2019 photo, Juneau Raptor Center board members Janet Capito, left, and Dale Cotton talk about construction on a new education display on Mount Roberts in Juneau, Alaska. The display will house Lady Baltimore, an adult bald eagle that is not releasable back to the wild. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — By the time tourist season is in full swing, Lady Baltimore will have a sweet summer home to show off.

The non-releasable American bald eagle, who is blind in one eye and has an injured wing, spends spring and summer months in an educational display at the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway on Mount Roberts that is maintained by Juneau Raptor Center. By late April she’ll have a new $170,000 display as her seasonal home.

“She’s a good old bird,” said Juneau Raptor Center Vice President Janet Capito while showing the Empire the site of the new display. “She’s one of the best.”

The project received $120,000 of support from Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, Duncan said, and it is being built by Silverbow Construction.

Jim Duncan Jr., general manager for Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, said he likes to say Lady Baltimore has worked hard and deserves the upgraded place.

Lady Baltimore’s exact age is unknown, but Capito said she was an adult — at least 5 years old — when she was found in 2006. In captivity, eagles can live to be more than 40 years old, she said.

The eagle was recovered in North Douglas after a gunshot had damaged her beak and caused her to suffer a wing injury and lose sight in an eye.

Capito said it’s unclear whether some of the injuries were suffered as a direct result of the gunshot, or because of an ensuing crash landing.

The act that injured Lady Baltimore is illegal, and violating the National Bald Eagle Act can result in a fine of $100,00, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“You can get some pretty hefty fines,” Capito said.

Dale Cotton, Juneau Raptor Center president, said Lady Baltimore has been a fixture in the educational display for about a decade and has taken to it better than other eagles.

“She likes it,” Cotton said. “She’s so calm.”

The old structure was about 15 years old and only featured one viewing window, Cotton said. It was falling into disrepair, and the decision was made to raze it in favor of an entirely new structure.

Capito, Cotton and Duncan filled in some specifics about the in-progress building.

Once it’s completed, Lady Baltimore, who cannot fly distances and tips the scale at about 40 pounds, will have 195 square feet to herself and access to windows that she will be able to look out, but which people will be unable to peer in.

The structure, which is being built around a tree, will be 22 feet tall at its peak.

It will feature three barred viewing windows for the public, and it will be more accessible to people with disabilities because of a new ramp.

The building will be capped by a see-through roof — the old display had an opaque roof — so Lady Baltimore will be able to look up and out of the enclosure.

Barred windows will help prevent over heating.

“She’s going to like this,” Capito said.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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