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Baby Bald Eagle Recovering After Falling, Wandering DC Streets

The eaglet, Valor, was photographed on a D.C. street looking a little impatient

A little bald eagle with a huge online following is recovering in a rehabilitation center after he fell 80 feet from a tree and then went missing for days. 

The roughly 12-week-old eaglet was named Valor by the American Eagle Foundation, which broadcasts a livestream of its nest. The nest has been viewed about 1.4 million times this season, foundation spokeswoman Laura Sterbens said.

Video from the rainy night of July 26 showed Valor walking onto a branch near its nest in the U.S. National Arboretum and before falling from its perch.

The next morning, a city worker found Valor at the base of the poplar tree and put it back into the tree — just a few feet off the ground this time. But Valor never made it back to the nest; it vanished without a trace. 

Several days later, a neighbor found the bird walking around a neighborhood about six blocks from the tree, a Facebook post from the Humane Rescue Alliance said. A photo shows the bird in the street, looking a little impatient. 

Valor was captured near the corner of 19th and Summit streets NE.

After a veterinary exam and some X-rays, Valor was given a clean bill of health, Sterbens said. 

Valor is now recovering at a rehabilitation center with a large flight run, so it can get back to flying shape, Sterbens said. A photo shows the little eagle wrapped in a towel, with impressive talons and one black, bright eye showing. 

Valor is expected to be released back to the arboretum in about a week. 

The eaglet and its sibling Victory are at the age when they begin learning how to fly, Sterbens said; typically, fledglings begin to fly between 10 and 14 weeks. Victory already has flown. 

It’s not clear yet whether Valor is male or female. Male and female eagles are similar in appearance, and their sex typically is determined after the eagles divide into mating pairs. When standing next to each other, the female birds of prey are typically larger than males.

Eagles return to the same nest for many years to mate and raise their young, Sterbens said. The cameras in the Arboretum have tracked Valor’s parents since 2016. The couple, dubbed Mr. President and First Lady, produced two offspring in three consecutive seasons. 

The American Eagle Foundation, based in Tennessee, has three other camera locations in the U.S. and operates a Tennessee facility that cares for 80 non-releasable birds of prey, including about 35 eagles.

This is the second time in consecutive seasons that humans have had to intercede to make sure the fledglings survive until adulthood. In one case, an eaglet got its leg stuck and a climber had to go help it. 

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