(Feb. 19, 2021) A bald eagle is resting comfortably in serious, but stable condition, after flying through the windshield of a truck on Route 113 near Langmaid Road in Newark last Friday afternoon.
Tractor-trailer driver Wayne Hamilton, 63, of Delaware, said the bird was apparently swooping down after prey when it crashed through his windshield and landed in his lap.
Maryland State Police, who handed the case over to the Department of Natural Resources, said Hamilton refused medical care, while DNR Police spokesperson Lauren Moses said the eagle was taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Newark, Delaware.
As of Monday, Lisa Smith, executive director of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, said the eagle is in stable condition and eating on its own. However, it still has internal injuries and is easily stressed when handled or when staff members enter the enclosure. The prognosis is guarded at this point, she said.
The bald eagle is receiving medications to reduce pain and inflammation at this time. Based on its fully white head and tail, this bald eagle has reached adulthood, Smith said, which means it is over 5 years old. Currently, the clinic is not certain of the bird’s gender.
“I am not sure we have seen a case like this before, where the bird went through the windshield and survived to be brought to us for care,” Smith said. “We have had cases in the past of birds stuck in car or truck grills and survived and were released.”
Perdue Farms announced on Friday that it donated $2,000 to help care for the eagle that survived crashing through the windshield of a Perdue tractor-trailer.
“At Perdue, as a fourth-generation, family-owned American company, we are proud to support what we hope is this eagle’s return to the wild,” said Rich Hernandez, vice president of transportation and warehousing for Perdue Farms. “We are equally proud of our driver for his compassionate care of the bird, a national symbol of our country’s strength and freedom, until she could be relocated to the rehabilitation center.”
Perdue driver Hamilton encountered the eagle while en route to one of the company’s plants in Virginia. He covered the bird with his jacket in an attempt to keep it calm while waiting for authorities to arrive to transport the bird to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.
“I’ve been driving trucks since 1979 and never experienced anything like this before. It really shook me up,” said Hamilton, a Perdue driver since 1983. “I’m so thankful the bird survived, and that Perdue is helping with her recovery. The bald eagle is such an important symbol for our country. Hopefully, she can be fully rehabilitated and released back into her natural habitat.”
It hasn’t been that many years since bald eagles were an endangered species and rarely, if ever, were seen in Worcester County. Their near-demise was attributed in large part to the use of the pesticide DDT, which also nearly killed off the much smaller osprey.
Scientists said the DDT was ingested by the birds through the fish they ate, and that its presence left the shells of their eggs so thin and brittle they would break during the incubation period.
The ban on DDT, along with other legislation, allowed eagles and ospreys to return and flourish. Although the precise number of nesting eagle pairs in Worcester County isn’t known, the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership lists 14 active nests in the county, most of them on the ocean side.