"When you see it, it's such a large bird that you just know right off the bat, oh yeah, it's definitely a bald eagle," said Marin County Parks Ranger Christin Lopez. She admits she was skeptical when she got reports of an injured bald eagle on Novato Blvd. near Stafford Lake.
Sightings of the majestic birds are rare but this time, there was no mistake. "To see that it was a bald eagle, I was pleasantly surprised, but also concerned for the eagles' safety," Lopez recalled.
The adult eagle, with a wingspan of about 8 feet, was in distress. It didn't appear injured, possibly just traumatized. "It was trying to get away from the coming traffic and it was trapped up against the barbed-wire fence, and it looked like it just wanted to get away from the side of the road. It was panting heavily," Lopez said.
The ranger knew there was very little time to waste. She had to get the eagle off the side of the boulevard before something bad happened. That's when her skills as a ranger really kicked in. "We tried to corral it and it hopped across the road," she said.
The eagle kept hopping into tall weeds, while keeping an eye on the ranger and her assistants from the Humane Society. "It juked us, like in football," she said. Finally, after a 45-minute rest, the mighty eagle mustered enough energy to hop onto a bike trail and take flight.
"A few passes over the lake and up into an oak across the lake," Lopez said. "I was thinking I am so happy it's not injured. This is amazing and I can't believe this is happening."
It was a day the ranger will never forget.