Kathy Pitts was out walking her dog around her neighborhood in Sequim, Washington, when suddenly her pup caught a scent. He started barking, leading Pitts to a bush on her neighbor’s yard.
There, huddled in the shade of the leaves, were two small birds — plump as chickens — covered with downy, grey feathers.
Pitts knew these weren’t just any chicks. They were, in fact, the offspring of local celebrity couple Ricky and Lucy, a bonded pair of bald eagles, who have been nesting in the area since around 2013.
Lucy and Ricky had lost a prior pair of eaglets in recent years, and Pitts couldn’t stand to see it happen again, so she called retired wildlife expert Jaye Moore.
Moore rushed the eaglets to a veterinary center, where the pair was examined and cleaned up. The babies were found to be approximately 3 to 4 weeks old — about two months too young to even think about leaving the nest.
“They’re very slow moving, very aware and alert, but you could tell they were very much out of their element,” Keith Ross, a wildlife photographer who captured the rescue, told The Dodo. “Very sweet, very soft, pudgy little things.”
The next hurdle to overcome was getting the eaglets back into their nest high up in the pines.
When Casey Balch, owner of Pacific Northwest Tree Service, heard that Lucy and Ricky’s babies needed help, he cleared his schedule and rushed over. The worried parents supervised his every move from a nearby tree, especially whenever he was handling their precious cargo.
“[Balch] ended up climbing up the tree,” Ross said. “And once he got up on the tree he put the chicks in the little green duffle bag and pulled them up and placed them back into the nest. The female eagle was circling the whole time he was up there, watching him.”
It’s been a week since the eaglets’ safe return, and the people of Sequim have been keeping a close eye on the little family. They’ve been delighted to see that Lucy and Ricky are in full parent mode once again — taking turns feeding their babies and keeping a close watch for predators.
“Everyone gets excited when they have chicks,” Ross said. “And then for them to fall out of the nest and for them to get replaced back, it’s pretty special — it’s like the Sequim babies got put back.”