We often catch glimpses of animals on the course here at Hobe Sound Golf Club, mostly birds and reptiles. The natural setting and neighboring preserves provide ideal environments for them. Sometimes we see birds up close, like the Sandhill crane or the anhinga, sometimes called a snakebird, stretching its wings by a lake. Other times, we admire them from afar, like a hunting osprey or a hawk in flight.
Recently, some of our members came nearly face-to-face with a bald eagle. On September 2 and 3, a young bald eagle was approaching golfers near the seventh green and eighth tee. While young, the eagle was fully grown and had sizable, powerful talons that were quite menacing! Your HSGC team called upon the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) in Jupiter to help.
David Hitzig, Executive Director of the BWS (pictured at right), and Erika Adams, Animal Care Lead, used a net to capture the eagle and bring it to the Sanctuary. According to Mr. Hitzig, the gender of the eagle is not known, but he believes it is a female. He said it is an immature bald eagle, less than one year old, but is fully grown.
Why was “she” getting up close and personal with golfers?
“Wild animals have different personalities,” said Mr. Hitzig. “In this case, this young eagle had probably just separated from ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ and was not successful in finding food on its own.”
So she was hungry.
“She had no health issues,” continued Mr. Hitzig. “She is in our flight cage and eating. The ultimate goal is to return her to the wild, once she gets to a good weight and demonstrates that she can catch food on her own.”
At rescue, the bird weighed about ten pounds and had a wingspan of about six feet.
A national symbol, the bald eagle was once an endangered species in this country, but came off that list in 2007. Now, the bald eagle is a protected species in the United States.
“We rescue animals every day,” said Mr. Hitzig. “We try to return them to the general area from where they came when they are ready.”
More about the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, a non-profit organization, can be found online at www.buschwildlife.org. The Sanctuary is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10am-4:30pm and admission is free.