Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eagle Gets New Beak

More than three years after a poacher shot off her upper beak, a bald eagle named Beauty can finally live up to her name -- with the help of volunteers.

A team attached an artificial beak to the 15-pound eagle in mid-May, improving her appearance and, more importantly, helping her grasp food.

A final beak made of tougher material will be created and attached later, though her saviors don't plan to release her back into the wild. They say that she has spent too much time with humans that the final beak will still not be strong enough to tear flesh from prey.

But getting this artificial beak now was key to Beauty's survival. A wild eagle that must be hand-fed by humans would eventually have to be euthanized, especially since her life span could run four more decades, said Jane Fink Cantwell, who took Beauty to her raptor recovery center in Idaho two years ago.

The bird was found in 2005 scrounging for food and slowly starving at a landfill in Alaska. A bullet had taken from her curved upper beak, leaving her tongue and sinuses exposed, with a stump useless for grasping food. Cantwell said eating with her beak was like using one chopstick. She also had trouble drinking and couldn't preen her feathers.

Read the entire article and see a picture of Beauty.

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