Rescuers Free Bald Eagle from Ice on Lake Michigan

The bald eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world and can have wingspans up to seven feet!

But even North America’s fierce bird is no match for a polar vortex like the one Northern Michigan had last week.

With temps hovering around zero and blistering wind chill bringing it even lower, the eagle’s feeding spots on Lake Michigan were chilly.

Last Friday, one bald eagle got stuck looking for food on Lake Michigan in Suttons Bay. The water froze instantly to some of his 7,000 feathers creating an ice ball on the tail that weighed as much as the eagle.

Neighbors noticed the bird hobbling and struggling to fly and called the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR referred them to Wings of Wonder, a raptor rehabilitation center that cares for up to 100 Northern Michigan raptors a year.

The Wings of Wonder bird rehabilitation group was there to rescue him.

“That cold was so extreme I think the ice just formed so quickly he wasn’t able to get out of the ice,” said Jim Manley, of Wings of Wonder.

In stunning video by fellow volunteer Ken Scott, rescuers are seen herding the hopping bird to shore where they could safely scoop him and take him to thaw out.

After a day of rinsing his tail with lukewarm water, they freed the bird of the icicle.

“He’s eating well, flying great, very good at flying, doing loops underneath the perches, he’s looking really good,” said Manley, who spent last Saturday thawing out the bird. “I think the bird…is in excellent health, his weight was very good, he’s doing really well despite the cold weather we’ve had.”

The eagle will make a full recovery.

Wings of Wonder invites the public to experience his release back into the wild Sunday February 10 at 4 in the Suttons Bay High School Parking Lot.