An eagle camera poised to show the world the live hatching of two eggs in south Florida has generated millions of online views. It also has raptor advocates hoping to generate awareness about the protected birds.
Every year, Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington receives a couple dozen raptors injured by gunshot wounds. A barred owl is currently recovering from a gunshot wound in his back.
"After taking a closer exam, we realized what we suspected was a gunshot wound to the back," clinic manager Jessie Paolello said.
Found on the side of the road, the owl is expected to recover, but its injury is an unfortunate reality for raptors in Washington.
"It's senseless. There's absolutely no reason for people to be shooting at raptors," said executive director Suzanne West.
In addition to gun shots, raptors are also regularly injured by litter, scavenging on hunted game killed by lead ammunition, and eating rodents that have been poisoned.
It's why West is hopeful about what this eagle cam might do for raptors. Millions have tuned in to watch it hatch its eaglettes, birds that will play important roles in their ecosystem, just like all raptors, by eating rodents, scavenging carcasses, and reducing the spread of disease.
"They're actually beneficial to the environment and to us by keeping us healthy," Paolello said.
Sarvey sometimes sees a hundred birds a year with gunshot wounds. Most are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, just like this eagle cam's chicks will be, whose new found fame is already taking flight.
"It's exciting to see these eaglettes hatching, and hopefully people will want to protect eagles, hawks, owls in their own backyard," West said.