Golden eagle carries prayers to the heavens after Brian Head Fire

BRIAN HEAD – Native Americans have long believed the eagle was given the honor of carrying the prayers of man to his creator with each of the bird’s feathers representing a prayer.

The golden eagle flies into the heavens carrying the prayers for the firefighters following his release back into the wild Friday after being rescued last month. Brian Head Peak, Utah, July 21, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

Brian Head Firefighter Bob Goldhirsch released Eddie the golden eagle with 7,000 feathers back into the wild Friday – each of its feathers dedicated prayers for the men and women fighting the Brian Head fire.

Goldhirsch was the first firefighter on scene June 17 when the fire initially took off, quickly spreading to 500 acres and doubling within 24 hours. The incident would later be designated the largest fire burning in the U.S. as the flames continued to spread at an “unprecedented rate,” multiplying in acreage daily for a week before finally slowing down.

For Goldhirsch, Friday’s event helped give him and his fellow firefighters some closure to an incident that has consumed their lives for more than a month.

“This was nice,” Goldhirsch said. “The fire has been a long long battle and this event was really a nice way of bringing some closure.”

Meanwhile, during the same time, Eddie has been regaining his strength after being rescued June 23.

A photo of Eddie the golden eagle when first found last month by Jim and Caitlin Clery in the Egypt Slot Canyon. The eagle was rescued by BLM Ranger Mike Thompson, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, June 23, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Caitlin Clery, St. George News / Cedar City News

Jim and Caitlin Clery found Eddie at the bottom of Egypt Slot Canyon located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument while on a backcountry hike. The golden eagle had flown down into the narrow canyon and could not open her wings to get out, likely remaining there two weeks before the couple found it dehydrated and malnourished.

“The chest of a golden eagle is supposed to be flat across. There’s supposed to be breast, muscle and the keel and the keel was like a spine, a ridge, there was nothing on either side,” Caitlin Clery said. “She was so emaciated that she had no muscle. She probably would not have made it through that night.”

Eddie was very lucky the couple found her as the slot canyon is not well-traveled, especially this time of year, Jim Clery said.

The couple immediately contacted Bureau of Land Management Ranger Mike Thompson, who hiked back into the canyon to rescue the bird before taking her to Martin Tyner, the founder and director of Southwest Wildlife Foundation in Cedar City.

The fact the baby eagle, born only in the spring, is still alive is a miracle.

“She had lost more than half her total body weight and was nearly in a coma state,” Tyner said. “She was on the verge of death.”

It took about three days before Eddie started showing signs of rehabilitation but once she began healing it was only a matter of time before Tyner said he knew she would be able to go back out into the wild.

“She’s as healthy as any other eagle in the sky and she has her chance now,” Tyner said. “She has her second chance for life as a golden eagle.”

Eddie is one of several thousand golden eagles living in Utah where they are considered a year-around resident.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Foxyheart July 22, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Poor eagle, hits the rocks then gets attacked by another bird. Hey, how about when you caption a photo it explains the photo? I am so tired of the same caption under each photo be it 2 or 12 they all say the same thing. Laziness.

  • Real Life July 22, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Yep. Them dam tree huggers. They really messed up a beautiful thing up there. Nevermind the dummy with the weed torch.

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