Glen Cove’s visiting bald eagle perches upon a finial of the Glen Arms Apartments.
For the past few weeks, Glen Covers have spent a lot of time looking up, literally, in hopes of spotting the young American bald eagle who had decided to pay a visit to our fair city. First reported spotted in the area around the Staples Shopping Center, he (experts feel "ninety nine percent sure" the bird is male based on size and weight) has fascinated shoppers, children, shopkeepers and Audubon members and birdwatchers who perched in the parking lot, hoping for a glimpse.
The Glen Cove eagle, known as Pride, The Mic, Baldy and surely many more aliases unknown to this reporter, was captured, in the most positive sense of the word, on Sunday and is currently in the competent, experienced hands of Bob Horvath and wife Rebecca Asman, both of whom are wildlife rehabilitators, licensed by state and federal governments.
"I'd gotten calls about the bird and had come to Glen Cove from my home in Suffolk to check him out, but had not been able to catch him. I'm a firefighter and had just returned home from my shift when I got a call that the bird was sitting under a tree in Tappan Beach. As I was very tired, and had chased the bird before, I wasn't anxious to follow up on this call. However, the caller, Peter Hojnowski, obviously knew birds and from his description, I knew it was time to bring the eagle in."
Mr. Hojnowski was on the beach with his son Jake, also a bird aficionado. "We breed parrots, so we know bird activity. This bird was not well," he said, so he watched the bird and made calls until he was directed to Mr. Hovath; the Hojnowskis then stayed close until Mr. Horvath arrived.
"The bird offered no resistance when I attempted to catch him," said Mr. Hovath, "which is a definite sign he was not well. I brought him to my home where we thoroughly examined him, including x-rays. We think he might be suffering from West Nile virus, and as those test results take up to 20 days
to receive, we are treating him for it as a precautionary measure. He was filled with mites, lice and flatflies, a sign of a downed bird. He had not been doing a great deal of flying for a few days. He has no broken bones, nor did we find any evidence that he had been shot at, which we often find in birds that have lost their way and end up in populated areas. He was a very lucky bird to find such a friendly place with such goodhearted people."
Mr. Hovath believes the bird probably had some disease festering, which may explain why he ended up in a city to begin with. "Glen Cove is not on any migratory path," he laughed. "There are no bald eagle nests on Long Island, but whether he came from the north heading south or the south heading north, we can't be sure. However, either way, he would have migrated hugging the shoreline, eating fish and other foods along the way."
The bird's activity while in the city was also indicative of illness. "A healthy wild eagle would not hang around accepting food from people in so docile a manner," said Ms. Asman. However, the couple agrees that we the people of Glen Cove probably did a lot to save the eagle's life. While some of the foods he was being offered were inappropriate, as least he was eating as his illness progressed. While he was losing a bit of his hunting intuition and skills, at least he was getting nourishment. He currently is doing better, and, while he's not yet out of the woods, Bob and Rebecca feel optimistic that the eagle will make a full recovery. It will then be up to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) when and where the bird will be released. Mr. Hovath's guess is Monticello, where there is a wintering area that is home to a community of eagles. The bird will acclimate himself to behaving like an eagle again when he is around more eagles. The bird will then be banded and have a transmitter put into his tail so he could be tracked for up to a year. Mr. Hovath has promised to send this reporter updates on the eagle's condition.
Since the bird's arrival in Glen Cove, city hall had found itself fielding phone calls from excited residents dutifully reporting sightings. Mayor Mary Ann Holzkamp said, "From the roof of Ron Hill Cleaners and various perches on School Street to Mill Pond to the Regina Maris, sightings were reported by everyone who had an eye out for the eagle. One afternoon he perched on the clock tower at city hall, making for a great picture along with the American flag, but no one could get to a camera quickly enough. By the time we got there, he had flown the coop, so to speak." While the mayor enjoys the idea of the eagle being allowed to live in our city, "of course, our optimum priority is the health and safety of the bird."
Meanwhile, Rob Coll of Starbucks on School Street will no longer be giving out free coffee. The store manager was offering a free beverage to anyone who brought in an original photograph of Pride.
Dave Losee of Losee Signs, also on School Street, won't be buying chicken to toss onto the roof of his shed to feed The Mic (so named for Mickey Mantle). But he does have some beautiful video footage of a brief but fascinating visit by one of America's most beautiful symbols. And the City of Glen Cove got a chance to glimpse a live incarnation of the magnificent creature pictured on the city seal and city flag. We'll no longer talk about the dog days of August. Glen Cove has experienced Bald Eagle Days.