Nanaimo woman rescues turkey vulture from ocean after eagle attack
VICTORIA -- A Victoria Day kayak trip quickly turned into a rescue mission when a Nanaimo woman found a turkey vulture floating off the shores of Newcastle Island.
Hilary Eastmure says she saw two bald eagles attacking a bird in the sky, which she originally thought was a crow. The eagles then dove into the water, leaving the other bird behind.
"When I got closer I could see it was actually a turkey vulture," says Eastmure."Its little bald head was bobbing in the water, just looking around looking really dazed."
The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre says the juvenile vulture was likely being hunted by the two eagles, looking to feed their young.
"They were probably hunting," says Derek Downes, an animal care technician at the centre.
"Turkey vultures are heavy-bodied birds, I suspect they took it down to the water, and realized it was likely too far out to make it back to the shore safety, so they basically just left their catch."
Eastmure says she couldn’t stomach the thought of leaving the bird to drown, so she decided to rescue it. The kayaker lifted the bird onto the bow of her boat using her paddle and wrapped it in her sweater to prevent his wings from dragging in the water.
"He was very quiet, and I was giving it a pep talk the whole way back to shore, telling him that it was going to be OK, and that he was just having a bad day but we were going to get it some help."
Eastmure then drove the bird to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
"Unfortunately when it came in it was mortally wounded, the eagles really did a number on it," says Downes.
Despite Eastmure's efforts, the young bird didn’t make it through the night, and succumbed to his injuries.
"I know that it’s a natural part of the animal world, but it's heartbreaking at times, even when you do your best," says Eastmure.
Even though the bird didn’t make it, Eastmure is grateful to the recovery centre, which is planning to reopen its doors on June 2 after being closed due to COVID-19.