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Eaglet saved by surgeon with vision

WHAT better way to monitor white bellied sea eagles in a nest at Sydney Olympic Park than by EagleCAM?

All appeared to be going well until an ornithologist noticed a fishing line wrapped around the two young birds in the nest and the previous day's recording showed the parents feeding them a fish attached to the line.

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Sea eagle chick rescue

Two seven-week-old sea eagles are captured on webcam trapped by fishing line in their nest. A mission to rescue the birds begins. Vision: BirdLife, Sydney Olympic Park.

A cherry picker was used to allow closer examination of the birds and they discovered there was a problem.

"One of the chicks was tied to the nest with the fishing line, which was wrapped around one leg, swollen quite badly, and the line went down into the throat," said Jen O'Meara, Parklands Ecologist at the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

"That's when we decided to immediately take the bird to the Animal Referral Hospital at Homebush."

Avian vet Dr Stacey Gelis performed a delicate surgical operation to remove the hook, which had embedded into the wall of the oesophagus halfway down the throat.

He said: "We could feel the hook from the outside. We plucked the feathers in the area, made an incision through the skin and oesophageal wall and removed the hook. If the bird had not got here in time, it would have no doubt died."

After being given some antibiotics, pain relief and fluids after the surgery, the bird was taken back to its nest.

Dr Gelis highlighted the importance of disposing of baited hooks and other rubbish properly to protect wildlife from injury and possibly death.