For about three months this spring, visitors to Rock Creek State Park got to see firsthand — an in real life — what many could only see on the Internet.
A pair of eagles nested in one of the dead trees in the midst of the Deppe addition at Rock Creek State Park. A crest in a road 200 yards away afforded visitors with the ability to see inside the nest. Travelers from near and far came out to take a peek.
“The eagle parents demonstrated great caring as the first egg hatched and then the second,” the Rev. David F. Raymond of Newton said. “People watched as the little eaglets grew and grew, exercising their unruly wings until it looked as if they were only weeks away from being ready to fledge and go out on their own.”
Just about that time, the heavy spring rains that caused substantial flooding in the Rock Creek area struck. During one particularly powerful rainstorm, which dropped more than 6 inches of rain on the park just prior to Memorial Day, the nest fell out of the trees.
“One eaglet was lost but the second hung on to a partially submerged log while the parents tried to feed it and take care of it,” Raymond said. “Soon, it was evident that it, too, would parish unless there was some kind of human intervention.”
Park ranger Kory Kinnick and Marion County Naturalist Marla Mertz were notified, and Mertz conducted a rescue with her husband. Dealing with eagles, which are strictly protected by federal laws, made the rescue all the more complex.
The surviving eaglet, now known as Jasper, was then taken to Kay Neumann of Saving Our Avian Resources in Dedham in west-central Iowa. An X-Ray did not show any broken bones, but it was clear Jasper was having problems with one of his wings, so he was placed in intensive care.
“His progress has been slow but steady,” Neumann said. “Now he has progressed to the point of being ready to be released.”
Jasper will be released Sunday, Sept. 1, at the Whiterock Conservancy on Iowa Highway 141 near Coon Rapids during its annual Back to the Sky event. Jasper is one of five raptors scheduled for release at the event, which will begin at 2 p.m.
For more information about the non-profit SOAR, or to learn how to provide financial support for its objectives, visit www.soarraptors.org.