Eagle abused for decades finds kindness with Arlington couple

Herald staff and news services

ARLINGTON – It’s a sad tale of decades of abuse.

But in this case it concerns a golden eagle.

Falconers Henry and Iris Thomas of Arlington are trying to nurse an eagle back to health that was abused for decades.

The eagle was taken from its nest as a chick and kept for years in a cage where it was beaten. It is doing well in a rehabilitation facility, but the Thomases say decades of abuse have taken their toll.

The female eagle was turned over to the Thomases recently by the widow of the man who took the bird from its nest. The woman was promised anonymity.

The couple recently transported the eagle to Arlington from Montana and have been feeding her a steady, high-protein diet of pigeon, duck, quail and beef heart. In just two weeks, she has gained nearly a half-pound and is only slightly below her ideal weight.

“She’s doing good,” Henry Thomas said. “She went through a little shock at first. The trip took a lot out of her. Now she’s getting climatized to the weather.”

But more troublesome are injuries – physical and psychological – the eagle sustained from years of abuse.

Thomas said an examination by a veterinarian confirmed the raptor had a poorly healed broken wing, a head injury, a detached retina and signs of possible brain damage.

The eagle’s behavior is evidence of the abuse she withstood, he said.

“When she sees me she casts her head down. She can’t believe she’s getting a good diet without getting hit,” he said.

The eagle was often taunted and teased, Thomas said, adding workers employed by the man often beat the eagle with rakes and shovels.

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