It would be easy to dismiss a brown heap in the middle of the highway as roadkill. Lucky for one injured eagle, a woman noticed the clump of feathers was still alive.
Gineen Nicholls was driving along Union Road on her way home from work in Montague, P.E.I., when she noticed the eagle laying in the right lane.
“I thought if I can block him with my vehicle so that someone doesn’t run over him,” Nicholls told CBC News. “Then when I did that and put on my four-way flashers I sat and said oh no, now what am I gonna do?”
It would have been inappropriate for Nicholls to call 911, since the island’s EMS service doesn’t generally deal with birds. But this day was a little different. As Nicholls waited with the eagle, debating what to do, two paramedics showed up. Melissa MacLean and Margaret Lister were on their way to their shift in Montague when they pulled over. Naturally, they wanted to help.
“But I’m thinking it’s an eagle, what do I know about an eagle?” Maclean told CBC.
The two medics noticed that the bird’s leg was angular and limp, so they assumed it was broken. Its wings, however, had good movement and extension.
Before doing anything else, Maclean made a call to dispatch to let them know that they’d be late. Helping an eagle might not be part of their job description, but keeping the public safe is, and Maclean knew that if they didn’t help the bird off the road, there could be a car accident.
First, Maclean ushered the people from the middle of the road. Moving the injured eagle, however, was a little more difficult.
Her first attempt to put the eagle on a backboard and place it in the ambulance ended unsuccessfully when a passing car spooked the eagle, causing it to extend its wings.
Then, a stopped motorist offered a laundry basket to help cradle the animal. With that, Maclean quickly scooped it into the basket, while Lister worked to calm the bird down so they could wait inside the ambulance.
Officials from a local animal hospital arrived shortly after and transferred the injured bird to the Atlantic Veterinary College.