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Crippled eaglet dies in rescue try

Published May 5, 2006

The bird leaps out of its nest away from an Audubon volunteer.

ST. PETERSBURG - They gathered in the parking lot of Coquina Key Plaza on Friday, hoping to head off Mother Nature.

The bird lovers wanted to rescue an eaglet with a deformed wing. They feared it would fall or be abandoned by its parents and starve, a common occurence in the wild.

Gabe Vargo, a volunteer for the state Audubon Society, rode a crane 150 feet up to the nest in a cell phone tower. As the crane approached, an adult eagle and one eaglet flew away, leaving the crippled bird behind.

"Just stay put, baby," whispered Lynda White, EagleWatch coordinator for Audubon, watching on the ground.

The crane's basket inched closer. The bird backed away. Then it jumped.

The eaglet plummeted to the ground, its wings never leaving its body.

White cradled the dead bird and walked slowly away, her husband patting her shoulder. "We gave him the best shot we could," she said. "It's a crummy place to be an eagle."

[Last modified May 5, 2006, 21:25:03]

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