Spencer and Chelsea Froese were out on a boat cruise on the Fraser River with their friends Leif Gunderson and Carla Trask about a month ago, when they stumbled upon an injured bald eagle with a broken wing. They caught the bird and brought it home; the bird is about as tall as a Grade 1 student. They gave it a temporary home in their old chicken barn and arranged for further help for the young eagle, as it still can’t fly.
When first hatched, eagles have a first layer of downy feathers that quickly change and disappear, replaced by flight feathers that are mostly brown in colour. Over the first four years of life they gradually acquire more white head feathers to resemble the bird-of-prey they are destined to become. Spencer’s father, Mark Froese, known by many of his friends as Bud, worked with the four young people to provide the initial care and subsequent travel to Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society where the bird they came to know as Headwig (of Harry Potter fame) could receive special assistance. It was Bud who explained the process involved as the dappled feathers which look almost dirty during the process of moulting, change in the fourth year of life and thus reveal the white hood of the Bald Eagle that make it attractive to future mates. Next year the five-year-old bird is of age to reproduce, and Hedwig at least has the opportunity now to be assisted by the highly skilled Lower Mainland veterinarians. He made his flight to Vancouver on Sunday from Prince George, with the assistance of Air Canada in the belly of a jet aircraft. Our gratitude goes out to the four young people who, by discovering him and by providing a respite for him, also provided the potential opportunity for his return to health.
We wish Hedwig well – even as we thank our four heroes for their efforts on his behalf!