In late March a resident Bald Eagle on Murray Lake became sick and ended up passing away from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Liberty, the female eagle who was sick, left behind her mate, Justice. Tammarie Arsulowicz, a Murray Lake resident, has been working with Barb Roth of Red Barn Market to host Fest for the Nest. The event will raise money for Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center and will take place on June 4.
At the end of March, some residents at Murray Lake noticed a Bald Eagle was acting strangely, sitting on the ground under her nest. Liberty was a tagged five-year-old Bald Eagle, according to Arsulowicz, a seven-year resident of the Causeway on Murray Lake. When Arsulowicz approached the bird she began having a seizure. Neighbors began to gather and figure out how to help the bird. After being in contact with several organizations, Liberty was taken to Dr. Rebecca Vincent in Wyoming, Michigan. Vincent has experience working with wildlife through Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids. She is also familiar with Wildside Rehabilitation Center, located in Eaton Rapids.
Unfortunately, shortly after Liberty arrived she passed away. It was later determined that she died from HPAI. This disease has been spreading throughout the country and Michigan has not been spared. In Michigan, the influenza was first discovered in Kalamazoo, then Detroit and now it is in many counties. The mortality rate for birds that become ill is very high.
“Iowa had three million chickens that had to be culled because of HPAI,” Louise Sagaert, Director of Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center says.
The loss of Liberty meant that her mate, Justice, was alone. Sagaert provided advice on what to do to help. Carbon Stories in Grand Rapids provided a drone that was flown above the next where he sat but Justice would not move. “We presumed there were eggs in the nest,” Sagaert says. “This [was] the time for raptors to start nesting.”
Residents of Murray Lake volunteered to make a feeding platform so Justice would be able to eat without having to leave the nest for an extended period of time. Tree Monkey out of Charlotte donated the use of their bucket truck to help place the platform in a tree. Two large salmon were placed on the platform for Justice.
“Louise [Sagaert] and I worked with her team of volunteers to find the supplies and support we needed to build a platform to supply food for Justice,” says Arsulowicz. “The friendship continues to grow as I learn about the amazing work her team does for animals in our community.”
Shortly after Liberty passed away, Justice was seen flying around with two juvenile birds, one of which he has taken on as his new mate. “We found out there were no eggs,” Sagaert says, but she adds that is a good thing after the loss of Liberty. “It made us happy that we weren’t losing more.”
Murray Lake residents have been keeping an eye on Justice and so far he appears to remain healthy.
Fest for the Nest
Arsulowicz came up with the idea for a fundraiser after her work in helping both Liberty and Justice. Originally she hoped to have something in her backyard. However, as the idea continued to formulate it was clear that a bigger venue would be needed.
“There is so much bad in the world today, I wanted to highlight something good. What they do is so important and I want to recognize them, and in the process continue to raise funds for their missions,” comments Arsulowicz on her idea. “I want to educate the community on the dos and don’ts of animal encounters.”
Arsulowicz connected with Barb Roth of Red Barn Market and says there was no hesitation in wanting to help out. “Her generosity and big heart for wildlife is a huge part of this event. Barb used to spend time watching the eagles land in a tree outside her office window. She is as invested in them as the rest of our lake community,” says Arsulowicz.
Fest for the Nest will take place on June 4 from 11am-2pm at Red Barn Market. “We can’t lose the momentum of increasing the wild population of Bald Eagles,” says Roth. “Organizations like Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center exist not only to rehab and release eagles, but also to educate us on what to do if we come across a sick or injured eagle. My hope is this event will bring them much needed funds and shed some light what to do if you think an eagle is in distress.”
Admission to the event is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Admission includes lunch and wildlife interactions. Additional tickets are available for $1 per ticket, $10 for 12 tickets, or $20 for 25 tickets. Ticketed attractions include a bounce house, face painting, crafts, games, popcorn, cotton candy, and additional food.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of people and a lot of fun,” Sagaert says. Money will be used to support the work of Wildside and the development of an extra clinic and space for raptors. “Although donations and grants help, they don’t cover it all,” Sagaert says. She says her Consumers bill is $1,500 many months.
The following hotlines are available for reporting suspected HPAI infections:
For those who remember reading our article about Rushmore, who was a failed release from last year, Sagaert is hoping John Ball Zoo may want to take the Bald Eagle upon completion of renovations to their eagle exhibit after their longtime resident eagle passed away.
Visit the Fest for the Nest Facebook event page for additional information about the fundraiser. Additionally, follow the Wildside Rehabilittion and Education Center’s Facebook page for more information about the organization.
Photos courtesy of Tammarie Arsulowicz and used with permission.